A Delhi court hearing case related to the northeast Delhi violence which took place in February 2020, has framed rioting and other charges against an accused, observing that the Court cannot ignore the statements of victims in the case (State v. Rohit).
The Court observed that the investigation in the matter appeared to be “highly callous, inefficient and unproductive." However, it added that as noted earlier this Court at this stage, cannot ignore the statements of victims dehors the delay in recording of FIR in the matter.
The Court, in its order, also observed that ocular evidence is considered the best evidence unless there are strong reasons to doubt it.
Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav, therefore, proceeded to frame charges under the following provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC): Sections 143 (punishment for being a member of an unlawful assembly), Section 147 (rioting), Section 148 (rioting armed with a deadly weapon), Section 454 (house trespass), Section 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), Section 380 (theft in the house), Section 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy a house, etc.), Section 435 (Mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage), Section 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of the offense committed in prosecution of common object), and section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant).
Court frames murder, trial charges against seven. Puts them on trial after finding enough material. It is alleged that one, Rohit (accused) was an “active member of the riotous mob” that took an active part in rioting, vandalism, and arson in North East Delhi on February 24, 2020. Following arguments, the Court observed that the defence had not been able to put forth anything to disbelieve or discard the ocular evidence of the witnesses who had identified him at the scene of the crime.
The charging order further stated that Whether the same unlawful assembly was operating in the area at the relevant time is a question that cannot be decided at this stage. Similarly, the issue of improper clubbing of complaints and delay in recording of witnesses in the matter also cannot be adjudicated upon at the stage of consideration on charge. This Court will try to seek answers to these questions during the course of the trial.
Responding to the contentions of the defense counsel that the complainants did not specifically name the accused in their written complaints and that there was a delay in FIR, the prosecutor argued that the violence was unprecedented with the people being scared and the police personnel busy maintaining the law and order. With people being in a state of shock and under trauma, it was contended by the prosecution that it took some time for the witnesses to muster the courage to report the matter to the police. The Court, subsequently, noted that it could “sift and weigh” the evidence for the limited purpose of finding out whether or not there was a prima facie case against the accused. It also said that the material to determine a prima facie case would depend on the facts of each case and that the Court was not expected to decide on the credibility and truthfulness of the available material at the stage of consideration on charge.
The court concluded that he is of the considered opinion that prima facie there is enough material on record to frame charges against the accused under requisite sections.