New Delhi: While discharging 11 Jamia Millia Islamia University students accused of rioting in 2019, after more than three years, a Delhi court on Saturday, February 4, slammed the police authorities for filing multiple chargesheets with “nothing new to offer”, adding that it “trampled the rights of the accused”.
The discharged student activists Sharjeel Imam, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Safoora Zargar and eight others were arrested in connection with the violence which broke out near Jamia in December 2019.
Additional sessions judge Arul Varma said it has been most unusual of the police to file not just one chargesheet but three supplementary chargesheets, with really nothing new to offer.
“This filing of a slew of chargesheets must cease, else this juggernaut reflects something beyond mere prosecution, and would have the effect of trampling the rights of accused persons,” the court order said.
The investigative agency presented the same old facts as fresh evidence, says court order. by The Wire on Scribd
“It is of utmost significance to note that the prosecution did not end with filing of a chargesheet and two supplementary chargesheets. It is with dismay that this court notes that a third supplementary chargesheet was filed, after considerable arguments on charge[s] were heard, and a day before the conclusion of the final arguments qua the aspect of charge,” the court order read.
“And it was filed when considerable arguments were already addressed, and when the accused persons had filed their written submissions,” the order said.
It highlighted that the “third supplementary chargesheet begins with a patently wrong statement”.
While making these observations, the court also referred to Surender @ Tannu v State NCT of Delhi wherein the aspect of filing a supplementary chargesheet has been delved at length.
“Only precondition [to reopening the case in which a chargesheet has been submitted and cognisance taken] is that the reopening must be on the basis of fresh material, which were not available earlier and also that permission should be taken from court,” the order said.
The court, therefore, in its order, said that “the second chargesheet was submitted only on reconsideration of evidence only collected at the time of earlier submission of the chargesheet.”
In this view, the second chargesheet cannot be considered in consonance with the provision of Section 173(8) of the Criminal Procedure Code (A magistrate cannot suo moto direct further investigation).
The order further said that a perusal of the third supplementary chargesheet reveals that the very same photographs have been filed, which are already part of the record. The same statements of those witnesses which were already recorded were again presented in the new chargesheet.
Interestingly, the court order clearly said that “even in the third chargesheet, the witnesses merely aver that the accused were part of the protests, and some were “speaking loudly” and “arguing with the police”. No overt act has been attributed to them even in the present chargesheet.”
The court, therefore, concluded: “The investigative agency has not adduced fresh evidence, rather [it] has sought to present the same old facts in the garb of further ‘investigation’ by filing another supplementary chargesheet.”