In the third hearing of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)-accused Umar Khalid's bail petition on Tuesday, 12 October, his counsel, senior advocate Trideep Pais, told the court that the evidence the police had against his client was inconsistent, baseless, and 'a bit of a joke'.
Khalid has been named as an accused in two First Information Reports (FIRs). He was granted bail in FIR 101 on 15 April this year. The current bail hearing was regarding FIR 59, where the anti-terror charge under UAPA has been invoked. Khalid has been accused of conspiring the violence that led to the death of at least 53 people in north-east Delhi in the communal violence that went on for days in February 2020.
"I'll show how UAPA is not made out, and the how the allegations are implausible," advocate Pais said.
The counsel's arguments began with addressing the accusation that Khalid was a part of and allegedly created a WhatsApp group.
On police claims of Khalid starting a WhatsApp group for Muslim students, the advocate pointed out how the police had absolutely no basis to make this allegation. He also pointed out how JNU student Sharjeel Imam, who police claim was mentored by Khalid, was actually at odds with the kind of politics and world view Khalid espoused.
"This is his wish, the officer who is writing the story wants to tell you this. But he forgets, he is not a script writer. He is an officer," LiveLaw tweeted from the physical hearing held at ASJ Amitabh Rawat's court in Karkardooma court in Delhi.
Pais also spoke about the meeting that was organised on 8 December 2019, which the police allege was where the alleged conspiracy of a chakka jam (road blockade) was struck.
"Is chakka jam an offence? Is a meeting to say that our protest will involve chakka jam automatically a criminal conspiracy? None of this is said in this. Where does it say it's a crime? This meeting has found itself on every news item, branded about like some great conspiracy," Pais said, according to LiveLaw.
Relying on the statement of a female witness who was allegedly part of this meeting, Pais said that at best what she was saying was that a meeting was held. More important, he points out, "The allegation was previous conspiracy of chakka jam. She says it's just a bunch of people who opposed CAA and met."
Pais also relied on the statements of other witnesses to say that not one of them referred to the meeting as a secret meeting. On the other hand, he said, Sharejeel Imam referred to the meeting on a WhatsApp group. "If it was such a secret why would he mention it?" he asked.
The Bail Arguments Till Now
Earlier on 3 September, on the second hearing of the bail petition, Pais had said that the charge sheet exhibited the "storytelling capacity and the fertile imagination of its author".
If you want to read in detail about the second hearing, click here.
Pais had argued:
"Please understand, he's not writing the script of (the) Family Man. He is writing a chargesheet," Pais had said, while adding that this was the stuff that was read and peddled to create public opinion when there was a lack of evidence. "This is done to carry out your objective of unfairly prosecuting people when you have no material to do so," he had said.
In the first hearing on bail from 23 August, Pais had referred to The Quint's investigative story in which we had found glaring loopholes in the Delhi Police's conspiracy theory. The police has still not addressed the concerns raised in our report. "This came out in The Quint on 12 June," Pais had said.
If you want to read the proceedings of Khalid's first bail hearing in detail, click here.
The theory is about a meeting that allegedly took place on 8 January 2020 between UAPA accused Khalid Saifi, Umar Khalid, and Tahir Hussain. The police had claimed in another charge sheet that they met at Shaheen Bagh to plan the protest knowing that former United States (US) President Donald Trump would visit India in February that year.
Pais relied on The Quint's report, along with a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs and RTI responses, that the news about Trump's visit was announced on 11 February 2020, to show that there was no way that Khalid would have known it prior to that.
Pais refers to how a witness gave a statement on 21 May where he does not speak of the meeting. "If on May 21 you don't know the theory of planning meeting, how did you file the charge sheet on June 2? Then you needed a statement. So, you have a supplementary charge sheet. On September 27, the same witness speaks of the January 8 meeting," Pais said.
The same witness, however, makes different statements under FIR 59. "It's a same tailor who makes different clothes for different people. It's like say this in FIR 59. A statement is a statement; you can't tailor-make it here and there. He's contradicting himself in the statements," he said.
Those present for the hearing were Khalid's counsels – Trideep Pais, Sanya Kumar, and Rakshanda Deka – Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat and Public Prosecutor Amit Mahajan. The next hearings in the case are on 2 and 8 November, the court said.