A Delhi court on Monday acquitted nine persons accused of rioting, arson and other offences during the 2020 Delhi riots, granting the benefit of doubt, which includes delay by the police in recording vital information related to the accused’s involvement.
They are accused of setting a shop and house on fire during the riots and police charge-sheeted them for committing offences punishable under Sections 147-149, 188, 427 and 436 of the Indian Penal Code.
Additional Sessions Judge, Karkardooma Court, Pulastya Pramachala, said: “I hold that sole testimony of Head Constable Vipin cannot be sufficient to assume the presence of accused persons in the mob, which set ablaze property of the complainant in Chaman Vihar. In such a situation, accused persons are given benefit of the doubt.”
The acquitted persons are Mohd. Shahnawaz alias Shanu, Shahrukh, Mohd. Shoaib alias Chhutwa, Azad, Md. Faisal, Rashid alias Raja, Ashraf Ali, Parvej and Rashid alias Monu.
Pramachala added that even though Vipin attended the briefing at the police station everyday with Investigation officers (IOs), he did not formally record it anywhere.
The Additional Sessions Judge said: “In his cross-examination, Vipin conceded that there had been a briefing at the police station everyday, which was attended by him as well as IOs. Still, the knowledge about the involvement of the accused persons was not formally recorded anywhere, till April 7, 2020.”
The court, however, noted that Vipin had stated that he had orally informed his senior officers about information with him, after about a week or 15 days of riots.
“No explanation has been offered for such delay in passing on such crucial information to senior officers by this witness,” the court noted.
The court said: “If actually such information was given to the senior officers, then why didn’t senior officers get such information recorded in a formal manner.”
Pramachala added: “Keeping in view such delay in disclosure of vital information being recorded, I find it desirable to apply the test of consistent testimony of more than one witness, in the present case also.”
Giving relief to the accused persons by granting them benefit of doubt, Additional Sessions Judge said: “Applying that test, I hold that sole testimony of PW9 cannot be sufficient to assume the presence of accused persons herein in the mob, which set ablaze property of the complainant in Chaman Vihar. In such a situation, accused persons are given the benefit of the doubt.”