Supreme Court issues notice on Umar Khalid’s appeal against Delhi HC order refusing him bail

The Bench of Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hima Kohli listed the matter for hearing after six weeks.

ON Thursday, a division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hima Kohli issued notice to the Delhi police on an appeal filed by activist and former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student, Umar Khalid, against the Delhi High Court’s order refusing bail to him in connection with Delhi riots of 2020 in a first information report (FIR) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

The Bench has listed the matter for hearing after six weeks. Though the Bench was inclined to grant liberty to Khalid to move the vacation Bench of the court, he chose to be heard after the court’s summer vacation.

Khalid has been languishing in jail since September 13, 2020.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for Khalid.

On October 18, 2022, a division Bench of the Delhi High Court comprising Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar, while refusing bail to Khalid, held that the allegations against him were prima facie true, and hence, the embargo under Section 43D(5) of the UAPA was justified.

Justice Mridul was also part of a Bench that granted bail to Khalid’s co-accused, student activists Asif Iqbal Tanha, Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal in 2021.

The high court Bench had said that Khalid’s name had been recurring from the beginning of the conspiracy till the culmination of the ensuing riots.

Admittedly, he was a member of the WhatsApp group of Muslim students of JNU. He participated in various meetings at Jantar Mantar, Jangpura Office, Shaheen Bagh, Seelampur, Jafrabad and Indian Social Institute on various dates. He was a member of the [Delhi Protest Support Group]. He referred to the visit of the president of the US to India in his Amravati speech. The [call detail record] analysis depicts that there had been a flurry of calls that happened post riots amongst the appellant and other co-accused. The cumulative statement of the protected witnesses indicates the presence and active involvement of the appellant in the protests, engineered against the [Citizenship (Amendment) Act]/[National Register of Citizens],” the high court had observed.

The high court added that these protests metamorphosed into violent riots in February 2020, which began by firstly choking public roads, then violently and designedly attacking policemen and random members of the public, with firearms, acid bottles and stones, among other things, resulting in the loss of 53 lives and the destruction of property worth several crore rupees.

These protests and riots prima facie seemed to have been orchestrated at conspiratorial meetings held from December 2019 to February 2020 in which Khalid had participated, the high court had noted.