Court acquits accused in first verdict in Delhi riots case

Prosecution miserably failed to prove its case, says court

In the first judgment on the north-east Delhi riots, a local court on Tuesday acquitted a man accused of being part of unlawful assembly, dacoity and rioting, noting: “The prosecution has miserably failed to prove its case, forget about beyond reasonable doubts.”

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat said a perusal of the testimonies and evidence produced by the prosecution in connection with the case showed “glaring inconsistencies in the testimony of the prosecution witnesses”.

‘Inconsistent testimonies’

“All the major witnesses are at variance with each other on material terms impacting the prosecution version… There is no testimony worth its salt which connects the accused to the offence in question,” the judge said while acquitting Suresh alias Bhatura in the case.

According to the police, Mr. Suresh, along with a huge crowd of rioters carrying iron rods and sticks, allegedly broke open the lock of a shop on the Main Babarpur Road and looted the premises on the evening of February 25 last year.

The FIR was lodged on a written complaint by Asif who stated that he saw 15 to 20 rioters breaking into his shop. The details of the items looted from the shop were also mentioned in the complaint. The shop is owned by Bhagat Singh and given on rent to Mr. Asif.

Mr. Singh had in his statement said that Mr. Asif had closed the shop due to the riots. Mr. Singh said he was threatened with consequences when he tried to intervene. He then ran to Police Chowki where he met a head constable and apprised him of the incident.

The head constable immediately came with him to the shop but on seeing the rioters, he ran away from there. The head constable also corroborated the statement of Mr. Singh. After the case was registered on February 28, 2020, Mr. Suresh was arrested on April 7, 2020.

The court noted that there is no denial that an unlawful assembly gathered outside the shop, ransacked it and committed robbery.

“However, the crucial question is the identification of the accused (Mr. Suresh) and his role in the present offence of rioting by the unlawful assembly,” the court said.

Mr. Singh, during his cross-examination, said he had never stated to the Investigating Officer that he could identify the person who ransacked his shop. “When the attention of the witness was drawn towards the accused, he denied identification,” the court noted.

The court also pointed out that Mr. Asif “was not an eyewitness to the incident of rioting”.

The head constable in his deposition stated that he identified Mr. Suresh at the time of rioting. The court said, “It is untenable. If PW6 (the head constable) had identified the accused at the time of rioting, then why he did not record any entry to the said fact on the said date or even till the FIR”.

The court noted that the accused was stated to be a bad character of the area and this fact was known to all the police officers and despite this, it was not mentioned in writing till March 01, 2020. “This is not believable," the court said.

“As can be made out on the cumulative reading of the entire testimonies of all the witnesses, the identification of the accused is not established at all. The investigation carried out is way short of the desired one,” the court remarked.

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