Activist and former student leader Umar Khalid was granted bail by a Delhi court today in a case linked to the riots in parts of the capital last year. But he will remain in jail due to charges under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in another case related to the Delhi violence.
Umar Khalid, 33, "cannot be permitted to remain behind bars on the basis of such a sketchy material against him", the court said.
The court asked him to install the Aarogya Setu on his phone before leaving prison, at a time Covid cases are spiraling.
The former JNU student was arrested in October in connection with the violence in northeast Delhi's Khajuri Khas area over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests.
Over 50 people were killed and 200 injured in the clashes that broke out on February 24 last year. The Delhi Police were accused of inaction or complicity in some instances of violence.
The Delhi Police Crime Branch, in its charge sheet, alleged that Mr Khalid was part of a group that organised a meeting in Shaheen Bagh on January 8, weeks before the riots, to plot the violence. The police alleged that he had "remote-controlled" the riots and had planned the violence during then US President Donald Trump's visit to Delhi.
Mr Khalid was also accused of taking part in anti-CAA protests in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Maharashtra, and making inflammatory speeches that provoked the violence. The organisers of the protests in various states took care of his expenses like travel and local stay, the police document claimed.
Umar Khalid "can't be incarcerated in jail for infinity merely because others who were part of the mob have to be identified and arrested in the matter", the court said.
"I do not find any rationale in the act of the police in involving (Khalid) in this solitary case for the offence of conspiracy," added the judge.
According to the court, the prosecution had never said Mr Khalid was physically present at the scene of the clashes and he had nowhere been captured on any CCTV footage or viral video. "Neither any independent witness nor any police witness has identified the applicant to be present at the scene of crime," said the court, adding that charge-sheeting him on the basis of "such insignificant material" was unwarranted.