'Recurring Mention', Connectivity With Accused: Court Denies Bail to Umar Khalid

This comes after the court deferred the pronouncement of order on Umar Khalid's bail plea thrice.

3 min read
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Edited By :Tejas Harad

A Delhi court on Thursday, 24 March, rejected the bail plea of activist Umar Khalid. This is in connection with the Delhi riots 'larger conspiracy' case, registered under FIR 59/2020.

The court, in its order, included the observation that Khalid's name “finds a recurring mention” from the beginning of the conspiracy till the riots; and that "he has connectivity with many accused persons,” among reasons for the dismissal.

This order by Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat comes after the court deferred the pronouncement of order on Umar Khalid's bail plea thrice: first on 14 March, then 21 March and finally on 23 March.

Khalid, an activist and a former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student, was arrested on 14 September 2020 in connection with the case. He has been charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) as well as other Sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

'Inconsistencies in Some Witness' Statements, But...'

Rejecting Khalid's bail plea, the Court said:

“The contention that accused Umar Khalid is a researcher and his bent of mind can be assessed from his doctoral thesis on Welfare aspects of Adivasis of Jharkhand and other writings is not a relevant consideration while deciding the bail application.”

However, the Court also agreed with Khalid’s counsel on that the “there are some inconsistencies in the statements of some protected witnesses,” before adding:

“… however, a finding has to be given on a cumulative reading of statements of all the witnesses & other events presented in the chargesheet.”

Further, the Court noted that Khalid’s name “finds a recurring mention” from the beginning of the conspiracy till the riots.

Also with regard to Senior Advocate Trideep Pais’s submission that Khalid was part of Wahtsapp groups Muslim Students of JNU and DPSG “but he has not written many messages in those groups and they are not overtly .provocative or incriminatory”, the Court said:

“However, the fact that he was part of such groups created for specific objects and his acts or presence throughout the period beginning from the passing of the CAB Bill in December 2019 till the February 2020 riots, as mentioned above, has to be read in totality and not piecemeal.”

“He has connectivity with many accused persons,” the Court added.

The Court also rejected Pais’s submission that Khalid was not even present in Delhi during the time of the riots and said, "It is not necessary that every accused should be present at the spot."

'Big Blow to the Right to Peaceful Protest': Amnesty International India Reacts

Dubbing denial of bail to Umar Khalid as a “big blow to the right to peaceful protest”, Amnesty India, however, quoted their Chair of Board Aakar Patel as saying:

“Umar’s continued detention for over 18 months comes against the backdrop of a rapidly shrinking space for critical voices and sets a chilling precedent for anyone whose views the authorities disagree with.”

Further, Patel pointed out that Khalid’s continued detention under UAPA “runs absolutely counter to the international human rights law and standards.”

"Amnesty International India calls on the Indian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Khalid and all other human rights defenders arbitrarily detained solely for expressing their opposition and peacefully protesting against the CAA.”
Amnesty International India


Eighteen people have been named accused in this case, but only six have received bail so far. Of the six who have got bail, only Ishrat Jahan has been granted the same by a sessions court. Five others – Faizan Khan, Safoora Zargar, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Natasha Narwal, and Devangana Kalita – had to go up to the Delhi High Court before they were granted any relief.

Khalid's counsel had opposed the UAPA charges in the court and had reportedly said that his speech in Amravati was about MK Gandhi, harmony, and the Constitution, which was not a crime.

Communal clashes were reported in Northeast Delhi as protests intensified against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in the national capital in February 2020.

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