Delhi: Seeking bail in the Delhi riots larger conspiracy case involving charges under UAPA, student activist Umar Khalid’s lawyer argued before a Delhi Court that the entire charge-sheet filed by Delhi Police in FIR 59/2020 reads like a script of Amazon Prime show ‘Family Man‘, having no evidence to support the allegations.
Senior Advocate Trideep Pais argued before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat that the chargesheet makes rhetorical allegations against Khalid, terming him the “veteran of sedition” without any factual basis. The hyperbolic allegations in the chargesheet “reads like a 9 PM new script of one of those shouting news-channels” and are reflective of the “fertile imagination” of the investigating officer, the lawyer argued.
Pais also argued that the police has attempted to give a communal narrative to the protests organized by Khalid against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
“Please understand, he’s not writing the script of Family Man. He is writing a chargesheet,” submitted Pais.
He added “This is the kind of stuff which is read and peddled, the creation of public opinion in order to substitute the lack of evidence to carry out your objective of unfairly prosecute people when you have no material to do so.”
Prosecution Tailor Made Statements To Suit The Situation: Pais
Pais started with submitting that the chargesheet conclusively showed that there was no crime on the date the complaint was filed. He also said that the prosecution’s case relies on a clip from news agency, which did not even have the full video of the speech alleged to be seditious.
It may be recalled that on the last hearing date, Pais had argued that the Delhi Police’s case was based on truncated clips of Khalid’s speech given at Amaravati telecasted by Republic TV and News18, which were in turn based on an edited video tweeted by BJP leader Amit Malviya.
“There is nothing in that speech which is leading to lawless action, sedition, hatred or any illegality of any sort. Having said that, by the time they took the trouble of going to Amravati and take the speech, they made 18 arrests,” Pais submitted.
Coming on the aspect of there being inconsistent statements given by witnesses, Pais submitted that a protected witness gave contrary statements in the two FIRs registered against Umar Khalid including FIR 59/2020 and FIR 101/2020.
“He makes two statements in each FIR. On 21 May, 2020, he is unaware of January 2020. But on July 29, he not only speaks of it but he says he goes inside PFI office. Then he makes a statement before a Magistrate that he didn’t go inside. Then he comes back and makes a statement that he was waiting outside,” he argued.
Arguing that such statements are inconsistent in order to meet the test under UAPA, Pais submitted that three people meeting and going inside an office is not a Conspiracy.
“This is a flavour of the kind of statements your honour will see. It is tailor made to suit the situation,” he submitted.
Rhetorical Observations In Chargesheet : Calling the contents of the chargesheet as rhetorical observations by the officer, Pais said that usage of words like “a veteran of sedition” suggests it to be a script of a news channel.
“Is this how chargesheets are written? It seems like a script of some news channel. Where did they get this from?” Pais argued.
“This reads like a 9 PM news script like those shouting news channels. Those news channels say anything they want. They want to give a slant, they’ll give it. Absolutely no responsibility,” he added
He also argued that the Delhi Police relied on the alleged slogan “Bharat Tere Tukde Honge Inshallah Inshallah” from the 2016 chargesheet registered against him in JNU sedition case in the present chargesheet concerning larger conspiracy in the Delhi riots.
“What happened in 2016 was that there was a poetry session. It was later termed as sedition. Nowhere was it ever alleged that “Bharat Tere Tukde Honge” was ever said by Umar Khalid. Transcript of 2016 chargesheet is here,” he argued at the outset.
He argued that Delhi Police alleges in the Delhi Riots conspiracy case that Khalid had made “tukde tukde” comment at JNU in 2016, whereas in the 2016 case chargesheet there is no allegation that Khalid made the “tukde tukde” comments.
Umar Khalid bail hearing: His lawyer Trideep Pais argues that Delhi Police alleges in the Delhi Riots conspiracy case that Khalid had made “tukde tukde” comment at JNU in 2016, whereas in the 2016 case there is no allegation that Khalid made the “tukde tukde” comments.
Furthermore, reading out contents of chargesheet stating “he was still bearing a facade of secular, progressive activism” Pais submitted that such statements were a figment of imagination of the officer.
“You’re saying that I had plans to be away from Delhi and you figured it all out. You didn’t have a single statement to support this. This kind of statements goes out in media, the irresponsible media shows it as a proof,” Pais submitted.
“Somebody has to come and say that this was a secular facade. How do you add adjective ‘facade’. You have to have some basis that it was charade. It was in the mind of officer that it was communal. Not a single statement that is was a charade or that non- muslims were brought in to make it a facade. The movement was what it was,” he added.
He added: “The last person who travelled with someone and got into this officer’s head was Voldemort from Harry Potter.”
Communal Narrative Given To Anti CAA Protests : The main thrust of submissions made by Pais was that the chargesheet has given a communal color to create a picture in public’s mind by giving repeated allegations of Umar being communal.
He argued that the police was painting a picture that CAA protests were led only by a particular community and that the protests were communal.
“If you are saying CAA is bad, it means you believe in this country and secularism. But Delhi Police chargesheet paints anti-CAA protesters as communal,” he submitted.
“This is the danger. And now your honour will see who is communal. When you add things in chargesheet and the news rooms carried it, who communalised in the country? Not me, the police. As we go along, Islam is a bad word, masjid is a bad word. Slowly slowly you’re bringing that narrative in,” Pais said.
On the participation of non Muslims in the Anti CAA Protests, Pais submitted:
“Of course there’s a nation wide protest against CAA. Which statement establishes that everything was identifiable from a particular community? No! It was a secular protest. It’s almost as if having a secular opposition to CAA is wrong.”
He added “If CAA is wrong, isn’t it open for people from other communities to join? Or that women cannot have right to protest? Is women protesting wrong? Or are they incapable of protesting? Does the movement of any sort be driven only by men?”
“It’s their effort to show me as a leader of imaginative movement which contributed to violence in Delhi. Therefore you have these narratives. No basis whatsoever to say this that I straggled to ideologies and made some coalition,” submitted Pais while concluding his arguments for the day.
The Court will now continue hearing the bail plea on Monday.
Earlier, Umar Khalid had told the Court that the entire chargesheet is a fabrication and that the case against him is based on the video clips run by Republic TV and News 18 showing a truncated version of his speech.
It was submitted that news channels Republic TV and News 18 ran truncated version of a speech delivered by Khalid at Amravati, Maharashtra on February 17 last year.
The FIR against Khalid contains stringent charges including Sections 13, 16, 17, 18 of the UAPA, Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act and Section 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act,1984. The accused are also charged under various offences mentioned under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
In September last year, main chargesheet was filed against Pinjara Tod members and JNU students Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha and student activist Gulfisha Fatima.
Others who were charge-sheeted included former Congress Councilor Ishrat Jahan, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider and Shifa-Ur-Rehman, suspended AAP Councilor Tahir Hussain, activist Khalid Saifi, Shadab Ahmed, Tasleem Ahmed, Salim Malik, Mohd Salim Khan and Athar Khan.
Thereafter, a supplementary chargesheet was filed in November against former JNU student leader Umar Khalid and JNU student Sharjeel Imam in a case related to the alleged larger conspiracy in the communal violence in northeast Delhi in February.