Right to peaceful protest and open criticism of government policies does not extend to disturbing public order, a Delhi court said on Friday, dismissing the bail plea of Shahrukh Pathan, who allegedly pointed a gun at a head constable during the northeast Delhi riots.
Taking note of the viral video footage of the incident, Additional Sessions Judge Sanjeev Kumar Malhotra refused to grant relief to Pathan.
“The right to protest is a fundamental right in a democracy but this right of peaceful protest and open criticism of government policies does not extend to disturbing the public order… Keeping in view the totality of facts and circumstances of the case at this stage, I am not inclined to grant bail to the accused. Bail application accordingly stands dismissed,” the judge said in the order.
During the hearing held through video conferencing, Special Public Prosecutor, appearing for the police, opposed the bail application saying Pathan was leading the mob and the whole country saw the manner in which he was leading the mob.
He further claimed that the weapon of offence has been recovered from Pathan and the police is still investigating the role of the accused with respect to the criminal conspiracy of the riots.
Advocate Asghar Khan, representing Pathan, had sought bail for the accused contending that there was a delay of two days in lodging of the FIR.
Pathan had sought bail on the ground that jails are overcrowded and pose a higher risk of catching coronavirus.
The accused sought bail saying he has been languishing in jail for over a month now.
The Delhi High Court had on Tuesday asked a trial court to ensure that if Pathan files a bail plea, it is heard within two days.
Following the high court’s direction, Khan withdrew the bail application and sought liberty to approach the sessions court with the bail plea.
Khan had told the high court that a bail application was earlier filed before the sessions court but it was not taken up for hearing on the ground that there was no urgency in the matter.
Pathan, 23, whose picture showing him pointing a gun at unarmed Delhi Police head constable Deepak Dahia during the communal riots went viral on social media, was arrested on March 3 from Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district.
The police registered a case against him under the sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Arms Act.
The police said it recovered the pistol that Pathan had allegedly pointed at the police official, from his house.
After opening fire, he kept the pistol at home and fled from the city in a car, police had said.
In the viral video, Pathan, a resident of northeast Delhi’s Ghonda area, could be seen pointing his pistol at the policeman on the Jaffrabad-Maujpur road on February 24.
Police had said after seeing himself on news channels following the incident, Pathan changed his clothes and fled to Punjab. He then moved to Bareilly in UP before hiding at a friend’s house in Shamli in the state.
In February, clashes broke out in northeast Delhi between the groups supporting and opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, in which at least 53 people died and about 200 were injured.