2020 Delhi riots: Court rejects Tahir Hussain's bail, says allegations prima facie true

Tahir Hussain
Tahir Hussain

New Delhi | A court here on Saturday rejected the regular bail plea of former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain in the alleged larger conspiracy behind the 2020 northeast Delhi riots, saying the allegations against him were "prima facie true."

Noting the evidence before it, the court also observed that Hussain allegedly funded the riots and participated in other activities resulting in the riots.

The court said it was too early to conclude that the charges against him were not a terrorist act, thus not attracting the stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention (UAPA) Act.

"After hearing the public prosecutor and after perusing the final report or the case diary, the court arrives at a conclusion that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the accusations (against Hussain) are prima facie true," Additional Sessions Judge Sameer Bajpai said.

Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad had cited a 2023 verdict of the Supreme Court, as per which, under the UAPA provision rejection of bail is a rule and allowing the bail is an exception.

The court said, "Definition of a terrorist act as provided under Section 15 of the UAPA clearly shows that even if some inflammable substance, firearms, lethal weapons are used which is likely to cause death or injury to any person or causes loss, damage or destruction to any property, such act would fall in the definition."

So, in the present case, the allegations against Hussain were such that "his acts may fall in the definition of a terrorist act", the court said, adding, "at this stage, it cannot be said that the provisions of UAPA as mentioned in the chargesheet are not applicable".

The court rejected Hussain's plea seeking bail as three co-accused in the case -- Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha -- were already granted bail by the Delhi High Court.

It said that the high court had "specifically" concluded that the trio's role was not within the purview of the limitations and restrictions on bail under the provision of the Unlawful Activities Prevention (UAPA) Act.

"It is important to note that the opinion of the high court is with respect to the co-accused persons only and is not general and therefore, cannot be considered for any other accused including the present applicant (Hussain)," the court said.

Rejecting Hussain's arguments claiming parity with another accused Ishrat Jahan who was granted bail earlier by the predecessor judge, the court said, "When the main consideration to grant bail to the co-accused Ishrat Jahan was the fact that she was a woman, the same cannot be taken into consideration for the present applicant."

It also rejected Hussain's claim for bail on the grounds that there were more than 10 FIRs against him, but he was granted bail in some of the cases.

"As far as the role of the applicant as shown by the prosecution is concerned, the record shows that the applicant while participating in the conspiracy, not only funded the activities of the riots but also participated in the other activities which led to the riots," the court said.

It noted that some witnesses gave statements against Hussain showing how the accused was instigating the protesters, gathered the protesters on the roof of his house and was himself involved in throwing petrol bombs at the public.

"It is also on record that the applicant released his licenced revolver just two days before the alleged incidents and used the same (revolver) as 22 spent or used cartridges were recovered from his house," the court said.

"Besides this, allegedly the applicant got converted approximately Rs. 1.5 crore in cash, which was used in the rioting and the said fact has been confirmed through the statements of different witnesses and examination of relevant bank accounts," it added.

Twenty people, including Hussain, activists Sharjeel Imam, Khalid Saifi and former JNU student Umar Khalid, have been booked for their alleged involvement in the larger conspiracy to incite the riots.

The Delhi Police Special Cell is probing the case.

The communal riots in northeast Delhi in February 2020 left 53 people dead and over 700 injured.

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