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Delhi High Court dismisses Umar Khalid’s bail plea in 2020 riots case 4.73/5 (11)


In a big blow to student activist Umar Khalid in the Delhi riots case, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday denied bail to him. The court observed that the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and 2020 North-East Delhi riots were prima-facie orchestrated at various conspiratorial meetings which were attended by Khalid, adding that the allegations against him are prima facie true and embargo under UAPA is attracted.

A division bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar said that Khalid's name finds mention from the beginning of the conspiracy till the riots and he was a active member of WhatsApp groups and had also participated in various conspiratorial meetings.

According to Khalid's legal team, they are studying the detailed order and will approach the Supreme Court at the earliest.

In the detailed order of 52 pages, the high court held, "Admittedly these protests metamorphosed into violent riots in February 2020, which began by firstly choking public roads, then violently and designedly attacking policemen and random members of the public, where firearms, acid bottles, stones etc. were used, resulting in the admitted and sad loss of 53 precious lives and the destruction of property worth several Crores. These protests and riots prima-facie seem to be orchestrated at the conspiratorial meetings held from December, 2019 till February, 2020."

"The protest planned was not a typical protest normal in political culture or

democracy but one far more destructive and injurious geared towards extremely grave consequences," the court said.

The bench further said as per the pre-meditated plan, there was an intentional blocking of roads to cause inconvenience and disruption of essential services to the life of community residing in North-East Delhi, creating thereby panic and an alarming sense of insecurity in the area.

The high court observed that the protest planned was not a typical protest normal in political culture or democracy but one far more destructive and injurious, geared towards extremely grave consequences and would prima facie be covered by the definition of terrorist act.

"The attack on police personnel by women protesters in front only followed by other ordinary people and engulfing the area into a riot is the epitome of such a premediated plan and as such the same would prima facie be covered by the definition of 'terrorist act'," the bench said.

Stating that the speech delivered by Khalid in February 2020 cannot be ignored, the high court held, "The manner in which the administration initially rejected permission for the appellant's speech and thereafter how the speech came to be delivered clandestinely on that very day is something which gives credibility to the accusation of the prosecution. Further, the CCTV footages filed along with the charge- sheet, its analysis and the flurry of calls amongst the appellant and other co-accused after the riots of 24th of February, 2020 also merits consideration in the background of various meetings, statements of various protected witnesses and the WhatsApp chats filed in the chargesheet."

The judgment written by Justice Bhatnagar cited Maximilien Robespierre, who lead the French revolution, stating, "This court is of the view that possibly, if the appellant had referred to Maximilien Robespierre for what he meant by revolution, he must have also known what revolution meant for our freedom fighter and first prime minister. The very fact that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru believed that democracy has made revolution superfluous after independence and how it meant the complete opposite of a bloodless change. Revolution by itself isn't always bloodless, which is why it is contradistinctly used with the prefix - a bloodless revolution."

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