New Delhi: A court here on Monday acquitted nine people accused of vandalism and arson during the 2020 Delhi riots.
The nine persons are Mohd Shahnawaz, Mohd Shoaib, Shahrukh, Rashid, Azad, Ashraf Ali, Parvej, Mohd Faisal and Rashid.
They were accused of being part of an unlawful assembly that vandalised and torched the complainant's property in Chaman Park locality here on February 25, 2020.
"I find that charges levelled against all the accused persons, in this case, are not proved beyond doubt. Hence, the accused…are acquitted of all the charges levelled against them in this case," Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala said.
The judge further said, "... I come to the conclusion that there was an unlawful assembly, which vandalised and set on fire the property..." But, regarding the involvement of the accused persons in the unlawful assembly, the court noted that two public witnesses did not support the prosecution's case.
Another prosecution witness, assistant sub-inspector Hari Babu, stated he was on medicine for memory loss, the court said.
"He was cross-examined by the prosecutor, wherein he admitted the suggestion that he was unable to identify four rioters correctly because of memory loss," the court said.
So head constable Vipin remained the only prosecution witness to prove the identity of the accused persons as members of the riotous mob, the court said.
But, despite knowing the details of the accused persons, the head constable did not record it formally till April 7, 2020, the court said.
The court said no explanation was offered for such delay in passing on the crucial information to senior police officers. And if such information was actually given to the seniors, then what prevented the senior officers to get the information recorded in a formal manner, it asked.
"... I hold that sole testimony of Prosecution Witness 9 (Head Constable Vipin) cannot be sufficient to assume the presence of accused persons herein in the mob, which set ablaze (the) property…," the judge said.
The accused persons are given the benefit of doubt, the judge added.
The Gokalpuri police station had registered an FIR against the accused persons under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including rioting and mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy a house, etc.