Last week, the bench had observed that being a special bench, it did not assemble on a regular basis and therefore, it needed to "take a call" on whether these bail pleas could be heard by it or if they had to be sent to the designated bench
Representative image. Pic/Istock
The Delhi High Court on Monday began hearing the bail plea by 'United Against Hate' founder Khalid Saifi in a UAPA case related to the alleged conspiracy behind the 2020 riots and said it would hold daily hearing from November 25 on the batch of related pleas seeking the release of several accused.
Besides Khalid, the appeals by accused Shifa Ur Rehman, Saleem Khan, Meeran Haider, Gulfisha Fatima and Salim Malik against the dismissal of their bail applications by the trial court are pending before the high court. Delhi Police's challenge to the trial court order granting bail to former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan in the case is also among the petitions.
"At the outset, we must let you know that this bench would be hearing all of these appeals" We will hear you for a while today and then we will adjourn it to Friday and then Friday onwards, the bench would assemble every day in the post-lunch session," said a bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar.
Last week, the bench had observed that being a special bench, it did not assemble on a regular basis and therefore, it needed to "take a call" on whether these bail pleas could be heard by it or if they had to be sent to the designated bench.
Khalid Saifi, Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid and several others have been booked under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and provisions of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly being the "masterminds" of the February 2020 riots in Northeast Delhi which left 53 people dead and over 700 injured.
The violence erupted during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
On Monday, senior advocate Rebecca John who was arguing for the grant of bail to Khalid Saifi said that the 42-year-old, who was arrested on March 21, 2020 in the present FIR, was managing the protest site at Khureji Khas but was not part of any unlawful activity.
She stated that Saifi is already on bail in two out of three cases against him in relation to the riots and the trial court's finding that the objective of one of the WhatsApp groups that he was a part of was to coordinate a chakka jam is factually incorrect.
She added that his organisation United Against Hate was formed as a platform to campaign against the politics of hate, and the WhatsApp chats, which form the basis of the Delhi police case against him, "have to be taken in their totality" and his contribution in those groups has to be seen.
The court listed the case for further hearing on November 25 and asked special public prosecutor Amit Prasad, representing Delhi Police, to place on record an electronic copy of the charge sheet in the case.
On October 18, the court had refused to grant bail to Umar Khalid in the same case, saying he was in constant touch with other co-accused and allegations against him were prima facie true.
The court had also said the acts of the accused prima facie qualified as "terrorist act" under the anti-terror law UAPA and the anti-CAA protests "metamorphosed into violent riots", which "prima facie seemed to be orchestrated at the conspiratorial meetings", and the statements of the witnesses indicate Umar Khalid's "active involvement" in the protests.
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