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Mere WhatsApp group chat not enough to establish guilt, says Delhi court while dropping conspiracy charge against accused in riots case

The court, while admitting to the presence of exhortations to come out and kill in the chats, didn’t see it as evidence to infer conspiracy.


ON Tuesday, a Delhi court discharged 12 men from the charge of criminal conspiracy, after it observed that it was “unfathomable” how an agreement to commit an illegal act can be inferred merely from a message posted in a WhatsApp group.

The accused were allegedly part of a conspiracy to kill members belonging to the Muslim community during the Delhi riots in February 2020. The court maintained the other charges framed against them, namely under Sections 144 (joining unlawful assebly with a deadly weapon), 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon) and 302 (punishment for murder) of the Indian Penal Code [IPC] read with section 149 of the IPC. However, it refused to charge them for criminal conspiracy over the WhatsApp chats. Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat noted, “Merely exhorting others to come out and indulge in criminal activities does not tantamount to any agreement between the person who holds out exhortation and the person to whom the exhortation is held out, to commit a crime.”

The court further observed that of the 12 accused, only one, Lokesh Solanki, was a member of the WhatsApp group called “Kattar Hindu Ekta” and hence there couldn’t be any inference of any agreement between the members of the said group to commit unlawful actions, let alone kill Muslims. The prosecution had alleged that an analysis of the messages in the group indicated an objective to kill an innocent Muslim, namely Amir Khan, who was killed on February 26, 2020. The messages in the group also exhorted Hindus to go out of their homes, and to rob and kill Muslims in Bhagirathi Vihar, the prosecution further alleged.

To this, the court added that Solanki in one message had boasted of having killed two people belonging to the other community and having thrown them in the drain, but he neither asked the other members also to do the same nor had any other member shown his willingness to indulge in such horrendous act.

While finding that there was no proof of all 12 being linked to this group, the court also stressed on the absence of “meeting of minds” to show a conspiracy established to commit an illegal act.

The court said that on a perusal of these Whatsapp chats, it “nowhere indicates that this group had been formed for any particular illegal object i.e. to kill the persons belonging to Muslim community as well as to vandalize/burn their properties and that the members had agreed with each other that they would accomplish any such unlawful object of the conspiracy.”

Further, the order notes that a “careful analysis” of the chats shows that its “members were keeping themselves ready for any attack from other community.”

Click here to view the court’s order.