Delhi Court frames charges against ex-AAP councillor Tahir Hussain, his brother, and eight others for acts of vandalism and arson

Delhi Court frames charges against ex-AAP councillor Tahir Hussain, his brother, and eight others for acts of vandalism and arson

On the 5th of August, a Delhi Court framed charges against former Aam Aadmi Party councillor Tahir Hussain, his brother Shah Alam, and eight others for allegedly committing acts of vandalism and arson in various shops in the Moonga Nagar area during the violence that erupted at the time of anti-Hindu Delhi riots in 2020. However, the court discharged three other accused in this case. 

The FIR was filed on the complaint of Irshad Ali who had alleged that his shop, Royal Mattress (owned by one Rekha Garg), was looted and burnt down by rioters. Later, the Police clubbed it with two more complaints by Mohd. Zahid and Gunjan Sachdeva as all three complaints were related to the same day, place, and time.

Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala of Delhi’s Karkardooma Court framed charges against the accused under Sections 148 (rioting with deadly weapon), 380 (theft in dwelling house), 427 (mischief), 435 (mischief by explosive substance), 436 (mischief by fire), and 450 (house trespass) of Indian Penal Code. Former AAP Councillor Tahir Hussain has additionally been charged with the offense of abetment.

The court order highlighted the reason for framing Tahir Hussain

The order stated that the facts mentioned in the statement of Irshad Ali, Md. Zahid, and Gunjan Sachdeva (the three complainants who filed FIRs in this case), show that all remaining accused persons except Tahir Hussain were part of the riotous mob, which indulged in a riot armed with deadly weapons in that area. 

During the court proceedings, it was found out that Irshad Ali’s shop was first vandalised by a mob. Later, seemingly after a gap of 30-40 minutes, a different mob gathered there and burnt his shop down, by then Ali had reached there as he had been informed about the incident by a man named Shyam Bihari Mittal (a public witness). 

Regarding this, Irshad stated that he reached the place of the incident when the second mob was setting the shop on fire. He identified Md. Shadab, Shah Alam, Riyasat Ali, Gulfam, Rashid Saifi and Arshad Qayyum. 

As per the court order dated 5th August, these accused had participated in a riot with other unidentified persons with a common object to vandalise and damage the properties in that area. The court noted that each complainant named those persons from this mob, whom they could see and identify in the mob. Therefore, each complainant did mention the names of all accused persons.

The court order read, “On the basis of observations and discussions, I find that a prima facie case for an offense punishable under sections 148/380/427/435/436/450 read with Section 149 IPC as well as under section 188 IPC is made out, against accused Mohd. Shadab, Shah Alam,  Riyasat Ali, Gulfam, Rashid Saifi, Mohd. Rihan aka Arshad Pradhan, Mohd. Abid, Arshad Qayyum and Irshad Ahmed.”

Witnesses testified that they saw Tahir Hussain instigating and guiding the mob from his roof

Further, the court rejected the written submissions of Tahir Hussain’s counsel that multiple FIRs have been filed against the accused, so he cannot be subjected to a fresh investigation by the police as one person can’t be tried more than once for the same offense. However, the court order categorically stated that other cases being registered against Tahir Hussain or other accused for different incidents of the same day, cannot be a ground to discharge them in this case.

The court order noted – According to the statement of Surender Sharma, at around 3:30 PM, Tahir Hussain was roaming around on the roof of his house. Tahir Hussain was pointing towards some shops on the opposite side of his house, which included the bakery of Md. Zahid. After which the rioters vandalised, looted, and set fire to the shops. 

The court also highlighted the statement given by one Shyam Bihari Mittal (the same public witness stated above). According to the court order –  Mittal mentioned that some people were pelting stones and throwing petrol bombs from the roof of Tahir Hussain’s house. Such evidence shows that this mob was instigated by Tahir Hussain to indulge in vandalism, loot, and arson in the properties and shops situated in that area. That mob consequently attacked the nearby properties including the three properties in question in this case.

In relation to framing charges on the AAP councillor, the court order added, “A prima facie case for an offence punishable under sections 148/380/427/435/436/450 read with S.109 IPC is made out against Tahir Hussain.”

The court added that all these accused persons are directed to be tried accordingly.

The case of vandalism at Royal Mattress is still unsolved

The court highlighted that the three accused persons namely Deepak aka Fauji Bhai, Mahak Singh aka Mintu, and Navneet aka Nammu were identified on the basis of a viral video that the InvestigatingOofficer didn’t collect, rather he got from Irshad who got it through social media. The court criticised the IO for not mentioning the key facts of the case in his first chargesheet. 

The court pointed out – It is also apparent that at the time of filing the first chargesheet in this case, IO had no clue about the culprits behind the vandalism and loot that took place at Royal Mattress. Still, IO kept mum over such a fact in the charge sheet. 

The court emphasised that when Irshad identified some culprits from a video, and IO got to know about the names of aforesaid three persons, the IO should have realised that this vandalism was done by a different mob, rather than the mob of other accused persons already charge-sheeted in this case.

When the viral video was sent to FSL, the FSL report stated that “it was observed that the files were found containing an audio-video recording of a display monitor. Hence, the authentication of the same could not be carried out.”

The court order noted – As the authenticity or absence of tampering of the video is not determined, the video becomes inadmissible as evidence. When the video becomes inadmissible, then any identification on the basis of such video cannot have any evidentiary value. Apart from identification from this video, there is no evidence regarding persons involved in the vandalism at Royal Mattress. 

In regard to framing the charges, the court order stated that accused Deepak aka Fauji Bhai, Mahak Singh aka Mintu, and Navneet aka Nammu are entitled to be discharged.

The court clearly stated that none of the witnesses vouched that they saw the incident and the prosecution could not bring any admissible evidence that could establish the guilt of the three accused persons Deepak, Mahak, and Navneet in relation to the act of vandalism and loot at Royal Mattress. 

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