In a significant legal development, a Delhi court in Javed v. Rajiv Sharma & Ors. has acquitted an individual connected to the 2020 North-East Delhi riots. The court’s verdict, while clearing the accused, has simultaneously brought attention to the conduct of law enforcement agencies involved in the case, highlighting broader challenges within the criminal justice system.
In the latest ruling, Additional Sessions Judge PulastyaPramachala of Karkardooma Court not only exonerated the accused but also offered pointed criticism towards an Investigating Officer and a Constable from the Delhi Police. The court decried what it described as “artificial statements” made by these officers regarding the alleged involvement of the accused in the violent mob that was responsible for the rioting and vandalism during the 2020 North-East Delhi riots.
While the prosecution did manage to establish the occurrence of the riot and subsequent acts of vandalism, it fell short in proving the accused’s direct participation in the unlawful assembly responsible for these criminal activities. This lack of conclusive evidence led the court to lean toward a verdict of acquittal.
The accused, identified as Javed, had been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, specifically Sections 147, 148, 427, 435, 436, and 149. However, the prosecution’s inability to firmly establish his involvement in the unlawful assembly played a pivotal role in the court’s decision to absolve him of all charges.
Yet, the court’s ruling took a detour when it delved into scrutinizing the actions of law enforcement agencies. The court’s observations revealed a lack of diligence in the investigative process. It criticized the Delhi Police for resorting to a mechanical approach when filing multiple chargesheets, pointing out that this approach lacked the thorough examination of the alleged incidents. The court’s critique underscored the importance of a comprehensive investigative process that avoids shortcuts.
In light of these perceived shortcomings, the court decided to refer the matter back to the concerned Station House Officer (SHO) for further action concerning the incidents reported by complainants Salman and Mujahid. This directive signaled the court’s expectation for a more rigorous and thoughtful approach to investigating the matter.
Additionally, the court expressed reservations about the manner in which certain incidents were presented in the chargesheets. It noted that the invocation of Section 436 IPC seemed to lack a solid foundation in some instances, suggesting an absence of precision in evaluating the nature of the incidents. This prompted the court to emphasize the necessity of accurately representing incidents in chargesheets, as these documents hold immense significance in legal proceedings.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time the court has voiced dissatisfaction with the investigative methods employed by the Delhi Police. In a previous ruling, the court had raised concerns about the integrity of the investigating officer’s approach, suggesting the possibility of evidence manipulation and a predetermined approach in another case related to the riots.
The court’s meticulous analysis also extended to evaluating witness testimonies. It pointed out inconsistencies between the statements provided by the Investigating Officer and a Constable regarding the arrest of the accused. The court’s observations hinted at potential credibility issues with these testimonies.
In conclusion, this case provides a nuanced view of the challenges and intricacies within the criminal justice system. While the acquittal reaffirms the foundational principle of “innocent until proven guilty,” the court’s critique of the investigative process serves as a reminder that the pursuit of justice must always be underpinned by thoroughness, accuracy, and impartiality.