A Delhi Court on Tuesday took cognizance of the offences of sedition, promotion of enmity between groups and abetment in a charge sheet filed against 18 accused, including former JNU student Umar Khalid, in the Delhi riots conspiracy case.
Additional Sessions Judge took cognizance of the offences under Section 124A (sedition), 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race), 109 (abetment), 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
Besides this, the judge said that it is grossly unfair and unjustified that the reporting of the exact contents of the charge-sheet are reported in the media before cognizance is taken.
During the proceedings, a question of media trial was raised. Khalid told the court that certain media houses were indulging in ‘media trial’ against him and the other accused.
To this, the judge said, “Media is free to cover the stories but they must also be conscious of remaining careful and objective in their approach. It is the fundamental right of every person accused of any offence, to be provided the opportunity to defend himself.”
The Additional Sessions Judge said that there is a world of difference between an accused and a convict. “…there should, at least, always be a disclaimer when reporting, whether it is the version of the police or prosecution or the accused instead of presenting as if it is the order of the Court.”
“There is also a disturbing trend about the reporting of the exact contents of the charge sheet before cognizance is even taken or counsels for the accused are provided copies of it.”
The judge says that it is one thing to report generally about the charge sheet but quite another to reproduce it as it is and thus, obviously, the question of leakage would arise.
Besides Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, Tahir Hussain, Safoora Zargar, Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita, Khalid Saifi, Ishrat Jahan are the other accused in the case.
Others include Meeran Haider, Gulfisha, Shafa-ur-Rehman, Asif Iqbal, Shadab Ahmed, Tasleem Ahmed, Saleem Malik, Saleem Khan, Athar Khan and Faizan Khan.