New Delhi: A Delhi court has convicted two persons for rioting and arson in Khajuri Khas in February 2020, saying the prosecution had proved the charges against them beyond any reasonable doubt.
The court convicted Mithhan Singh and Jony Kumar, who were part of a riotous mob that set ablaze the shop of the complainant Aamir Hussain February 25 that year.
“I find that the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubts that both the accused persons were members of unlawful assembly, which in defiance to the proclamation made under Section 144 of the code of criminal procedure (CrPC), indulged into riot, vandalism and set ablaze shop of prosecution witness 9 (Hussain),” Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala said in a judgment passed on Tuesday.
The judge convicted the duo for offences under IPC sections 147 (rioting ) 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon), 427 (punishment for committing mischief and thereby causing loss or damage to the amount of Rs 50 or upwards), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant).
The judge posted the matter for filing of affidavits April 11, following which arguments on sentencing will be heard.
ASJ Pramachala noted that none of the public witnesses or residents of the lane, including Hussain, supported the prosecution’s case to identify the accused as members of the riotous mob and all of them took the plea that as they did not see the rioters, they could not identify the accused.
This meant either these witnesses actually did not see any rioters or they were under “some kind of pressure” to turn hostile, the judge said.
Noting some contradictions between Hussain’s complaint and statement, the judge said he could have made some “tutored statement” for the benefit of the accused.
“In this situation, I do get the feeling that if not all, then at least some of these witnesses deliberately turned hostile on the point of identity of rioters,” the judge said.
Saying that “the problem of hostile witnesses has haunted our justice delivery system for long,” the judge then referred to a 2012 judgement of the Supreme Court and a 2009 judgement of the Delhi High Court.
“Therefore, on the basis of the absence of identification by aforesaid public witnesses, it cannot be said that both accused persons were not present in this mob at all. It is just a situation, where their evidence does not help the prosecution in establishing the presence of both accused persons in the mob,” the judge said.
The ASJ also rejected various arguments against the credibility of the evidence of two police officials, saying in their cross-examinations, there were no such contradictions to make their statements unworthy.
The Khajuri Khas police station had filed a chargesheet against the duo.
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