A Delhi court has asked the counsels for the accused persons in the northeast Delhi violence case to return the chargesheet which contains the alleged disclosure of the name of the protected witnesses after it was informed by the Delhi Police that at least three protected witnesses were contacted by various persons with vested interests.
Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat, allowed the application of prosecution seeking court direction to accused and their lawyers to return the chargesheet filed on September 16 under various sections of Indian Penal Code, Arms Act and stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against several accused including former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain.
The court, while allowing the prosecution application, noted that the accused persons or any other person or authority, etc, shall not divulge, publish, disclose, disseminate or circulate the identity of the protected witnesses and approach them directly or indirectly.
The Special Cell of the Delhi Police, which is investigating the case, shall ensure comprehensive safety and security to all such protected witnesses, the court observed.
However, the court asked all accused person/their counsels to return the soft copies of the chargesheet supplied to them in court and obtain a fresh soft copy of chargesheet in new pen-drive on next working day, as stated in the application.
The court also noted that there is a mistake on the part of the Investigating Officer and since the purpose of giving protection to the identity of the protected witnesses is for a fair trial and for specific protection to the witnesses, hence, the immediate protection order is required to be passed.
The sole idea is to protect the identity of the witnesses and to ensure their safety and security, the court said in its order on Friday.
Special public prosecutor advocate Amit Prasad, through the application on Friday, submitted that the present case is listed for October 15 and the chargesheet was filed on September 16.
"The charge-sheet is very lengthy, bulky and voluminous, which is around 18000 pages. Inadvertently, the identity of some of the protected witnesses were disclosed by way of attaching untruncated judicial and investigation papers in the chargesheet, which is neither intentional nor deliberate," Prasad submitted.
The soft copy of the chargesheet, identical to the original chargesheet was supplied to the accused persons or their counsels, he said.
The prosecution's application said that since the issue pertains to the protection of protected witnesses whose identities should not have been disclosed to the accused or their counsels in the first place, hence, no legitimate right of the accused persons are curtailed by the disposal of this application.
It further said that the investigating agency is conscious regarding the safety and security of the public witnesses including protected public witnesses. The life, liberty, safety and security of the protected public witnesses are of paramount importance, it said. The application said that the state is protector and guardian of the life and liberty of the citizens of this country.
The application said that during the investigation of this case the identity of some of the witnesses were kept confidential as contemplated under Section 44 of the UA(P) Act. It has come to the knowledge of investigating agency that at least 3 protected witnesses have been reached out by various persons with vested interests, in relation to the present case, it added.
At least 53 people lost their lives and hundreds of others were injured in the violence which took place in February this year in the northeast area of the national capital between groups supporting and opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act.
( With inputs from ANI )
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