A municipal court acquitted a man accused of unlawful assembly, dacoity, and rioting in the first ruling on the north-east Delhi riots on Tuesday, observing that “the prosecution has utterly failed to prove its case, let alone beyond reasonable doubt.”
While acquitting Suresh, the court stated that the testimony of the witnesses had proven that an unauthorised assembly of 15-20 people, rioting, and ransacking of the complainant’s shop had actually occurred. However, Suresh was the only one detained in the case.
From February 24-26 last year, large-scale communal violence erupted in north-east Delhi, with 53 people killed and hundreds injured in clashes between pro-and anti-CAA protestors.
Suresh, a 27-year-old labourer who was arrested in the case on April 7 last year, was found not guilty of all the charges brought against him under sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 427 (mischief), and 454 (house-breaking) read with 149 (unlawful assembly) and 395 (punishment for dacoity) of the Indian Penal Code.
Suresh was granted bail in the case on February 25, but his lawyer, Rajeev Pratap Singh Tomar, said he was still detained in the Mandoli jail because he was unable to pay the sum of his bail bond.
At the present hearing, the Additional Meetings Judge, Amitabh Rawat, stated that a review of the prosecution’s statements and evidence in the case revealed “glaring contradictions in the testimony of the prosecution witnesses.”
The court said, “In light of the prosecution’s witnesses’ testimony and their close examination, it is clear that the prosecution has failed miserably to prove its case, much alone, beyond a reasonable doubt. All of the key witnesses disagree on key points that affect the prosecution’s version of events. “
In addition, it stated: “The identity of the accused is not proved at all, as can be seen from a cumulative interpretation of all of the witnesses’ testimonies. The inquiry that was conducted fell well short of what was expected. “
The complainant, a business owner, one public witness, a duty officer, two police employees, and the Investigating Officer were among the seven prosecution witnesses in the case.
After examining the individual testimonies of the witnesses, the court concluded that “in a criminal trial, it is not the quantity but the quality of the testimony of the witnesses that matters.”
The business owner, Bhagat Singh, firmly maintained that he had never told the Investigating Officer that he could identify the person who had looted his shop, according to the Court. With this, the Court observed, “There is no credible evidence linking the accused to the current offence.”