Suspended AAP Councillor Tahir Hussain allegedly used rioters as human weapons, who on his instigation could have killed anybody, a Delhi court said on Monday while dismissing his bail plea in the murder case of IB official Ankit Sharma during the communal violence in north east Delhi.
Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav said that a "powerful person" like Hussain can threaten witnesses in the case if enlarged on bail.
"At this stage, I find that there is enough material on record to presume that the applicant was very well present at the spot of crime and was exhorting the rioters of a particular community and as such, he did not use his hands and fists, but rioters as 'human weapons', who on his instigation could have killed anybody.
"In this case, it is apparent that witnesses, whose statements have been recorded are residents of the same locality and they can easily be threatened by a powerful person like the applicant (Hussain)," the judge said in his order.
The judge, however, clarified that anything stated in the order was based upon "prima analysis of material available on record at this stage which is yet to be tested on the touchstone of trial".
The Delhi Police had, in its charge sheet filed in the case, alleged there was a deep rooted conspiracy behind Sharma's murder as he was specifically targeted by a mob led by Hussain.
The charge sheet said that autopsy had revealed that there were 51 sharp injuries on his body and the way Sharma was killed by the cold blooded rioters has shaken the social fabric of the society and instilled a fear in the minds of the residents of the area.
The court, in its Monday's order, said that it was a matter of record that the investigation in the matter was still under progress as some other persons have to be apprehended.
It further noted that two persons have stated in their statements to the Crime Branch, about the conspiracy of communal riots allegedly being hatched at the residence of Hussain on February 24.
The court said that even if there was no video footage or CCTV footage showing Hussain's presence at the spot, there was enough ocular evidence available on record which prima facie established he was present at the place of the incident.
"I find that the riots in the area of north-east Delhi were carried out in an organized manner and as part of deep-rooted conspiracy and the involvement of applicant is being investigated upon with regard to his connection with members of PFI (Popular Front of India), Pinjratod, Jamia Co-ordination Committee, United Against Hate Group and anti-CAA protesters. That is, however, subject matter of another FIR as well as the proceedings being conducted by Enforcement Directorate (ED)," the judge said.
During the hearing held through video conferencing, senior advocate K K Manan and advocate Uditi Bali, appearing for Hussain, claimed there was no cogent evidence which is admissible in the eyes of law, to connect him in the killing of Sharma.
"There was delay in recording the statements of the witnesses. There is no evidence by way of video footage or CCTV footage to prove that Hussain was present at the scene of crime at the time of incident," the counsel said.
They further alleged that on February 25, he was not present at or around the scene of crime and his alleged presence stated by the witnesses was false.
He was rescued on the intervening night of February 24/25, by the police force itself and was taken to his parental house at Mustafabad and he did not return at the scene of crime.
Special Public Prosecutor Manoj Chaudhary, appearing for the state, opposed the bail application saying that witnesses in the case have alleged that on Hussain's instigation the rioters had killed Sharma.
The riots in the area of north-east Delhi were part of large scale conspiracy hatched at various levels all over Delhi in the aftermath of enactment of Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 on December 11, last year, the counsel said.
He further claimed that the police had recorded statements of at least 13 witnesses, who have clearly identified Hussain at the scene of crime, allegedly instigating the rioters of a particular community and exhorting them to kill the people of other community.
Hussain had allegedly provided logistic support like lathis, dandas, stones, acid bottles, knives, swords, fire arms to the rioters at the roof of his house itself, the public prosecutor claimed.
"In my considered opinion, the statements of witnesses can be said to be delayed when the witnesses are known to the police and yet police do not record their statements; whereas, in a case of rioting, police hardly have any idea as to who the witnesses were. Further, people normally do not come forward and it is an admitted position on record that on the date of incident nearly 10,000 PCR calls were recorded in the area of Police Station Dayalpur.
"Thereafter, on the basis of these calls, police reverted back and traced out some of the witnesses. Therefore, at this stage, it cannot be said that there is delay in recording of statements of witnesses by the investigating agency," the judge said.
The dead body was fished out the next day in the morning.