NEW DELHI — “The grounds that I have put down in my application are my thoughts on this case,” said M.M. Hashmi, who says he is representing the only three men who have been granted bail in a murder case related to the Delhi riots thus far.
In the bail order for one Mohammad Rizwan, booked for murder in First Information Report (FIR) 119/2020 of Khajuri Khas police station, Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav of Karkardooma District Court, wrote, “I have given my thoughtful consideration to the arguments advanced at bar. In the entire report, the IO has nowhere mentioned as to how the applicant was identified in this matter.”
The order dated 24 June, 2020, said, “The report is completely devoid of material against the applicant.”
“When I applied for bail there was no specific evidence against him,” said Hashmi, a trial lawyer in Delhi for the past 25 years.
“The PP and IO could not defend it,” he said, referring to the Public Prosecutor and the Investigating Officer.
Hashmi said that bail was similarly granted to two of his other clients in the case, Mohammed Tyabb and Israr Ahmad.
The complainant in FIR 119/2020 of Khajuri Khas police station is one Pappu, son of Mr. Samim, who alleges that his brother Babbu was injured when he crossed a rioting mob that was pelting stones on 25 February and he later died in hospital. The FIR was registered three days later on 28 February.
53 people were killed in the communal violence in northeast Delhi in February. Of the more than 750 cases registered pursuant to the riots, 53 are for murder and 29 are for attempt to murder, according to Delhi Police data.
HuffPost India spoke with four lawyers fighting cases related to the Delhi riots who said they were not aware of any other case in which bail had been granted for murder. They said that while there was no prohibition against granting bail in murder cases, the standard for getting bail in such cases - even when it was not is the context of a riot - was “very high.”
Hashmi said that he only discovered that his clients were booked under FIR 119 after he had secured bail for them in another FIR, FIR 103/2020 of Khajuri Khas, but they were not released from jail.
In oral arguments against the granting of bail, Hashmi said that the Public Prosecutor had said that the complainant, a police constable, in FIR 103, was a witness in FIR 119, but the judge rejected this.
In addition to cooperating with the investigation, not tampering with evidence, and keeping an operational mobile phone, the conditions for bail also include downloading the Aarogya Setu app.
Hashmi said that the complainant and his deceased brother were Muslim as were his clients. He also said the 19 accused were a mix of Hindus and Muslims.
Even if he is the only lawyer to have managed bail for his clients in a murder case relating to the Delhi riots, Hashmi is not one to pat now own.
“It depends on the prima facie evidence presented,” he said, matter of factly.
When he argued for bail on 17 July for his fourth client in the same case, Hashmi said the police had added a public witness and they did not get bail.
“If the police are presenting any evidence before the court, like electronic evidence like video footage or photograph, or it could be a public witness, the courts are not considering bail,” he said. “There are young men who have been behind bars since February and March, but the court is just not considering bail in such matters, even if it is not a murder case.”
“There could be some cases in which there is zero evidence and the police has just picked up people, then they will consider bail. Actually, the people have done that in most cases. You will see most of these people will be eventually acquitted after trial,” he said.