Thursday, Aug 18, 2022

Delhi Riots: Police Agree To Provide Digital Chargesheet Access To UAPA Accused

The accused needs to read what is in the chargesheet, additional sessions judge Amitabh Rawat notes

Arson in Jafrabad during communal violence that engulfed Northeast Delhi. PTI Photo

Delhi Police agreed before a court here on Tuesday to allow access to the soft copy of the charge sheet in a north-east Delhi riots case to all the accused after they contended that it was difficult to discuss the 17,000-page document during the half-hour legal interview with their lawyers.

The police told Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat,that they have no problem if the charge sheet was uploaded to the computer inside the jail complexes and all the accused in the case have access to it.

The submissions were made when the counsel of former JNU student leader Umar Khalid told the court he has moved an application seeking that Khalid be permitted to access the soft copy of the charge sheet in jail.

Khalid's counsel further said it was difficult to discuss the legal strategy and the charge sheet, running into more than 17,000 pages, during the legal interview as it was only for half an hour.

He said, “Umar Khalid may be permitted to access soft copy of the charge sheet in jail. On whatever computers that are available or accessible to him, either a computer is brought to jail number 2 or he is taken to the computer centre inside the jail premises, he should be allowed to access the soft copy of the charge sheet. 

“We have half an hour interview. We cannot discuss the charge sheet or our legal strategy during that time. It is running into thousands of pages.”

Khalid said it was hindering his right to a fair trial.

Another accused Sharjeel Imam also said that the order be extended for all the accused as everyone was in the same boat.

“I have been trying to get access to the charge sheet. Same order be passed for all the accused in the case as we are all in the same boat. I have spent two months in prison speculating news reports.”

Advocate Sowjhanya Shankaran, appearing for accused Asif Iqbal Tanha, said that she had moved an application before the Tihar jail authorities on November 18 seeking access to a computer for Tanha but has not got any response till date.

Shankaran sought that a report be called from the jail authorities regarding it.

Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad, appearing for the police, said as far Khalid''s application was concerned, similar order be passed for all jails.

“So far as Khalid's application is concerned, similar order be passed for all the jails. I completely agree to that. I agree to it that the charge sheet be uploaded to a computer and all have access to it,” Prasad said.

The judge concluded, “The accused needs to read what is in the charge sheet”, and put the matter for further hearing on January 19.

Meanwhile, advocate Arjun Dewan, appearing for another accused Athar Khan, claimed that he was suffering from serious medical condition and was not provided proper treatment in jail.

Khan's counsel further alleged that his inmates passed communally coloured remarks against him and were causing trouble for him.

Khan also directly addressed the court and claimed that he was not being given the high-fibre diet in jail which the doctor had prescribed for him.

He further said he was quarantined for 14 days every time he was taken out for treatment and during the entire period he was not even allowed to go out of the cell.

Khan said he was not even allowed to meet his lawyer for the entire 14-day quarantine period.

All the accused have been booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the case related to pre-mediated conspiracy in the riots.

Communal violence had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 last year after clashes between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.