Seeking bail for activist Umar Khalid, Senior Advocate Trideep Pais today told a Delhi Court that the origin of the video footage purportedly showing Khalid giving a speech in Amravati, Maharashtra was taken from a tweet of BJP member Amit Malviya and then aired by news channels including Republic TV.
“Your (prosecution) material is a YouTube video, copies form a tweet. Journalist did not have a responsibility to go there and attend? Copying it from a politician's tweet. This is death of journalism,” Pais stressed.
Khalid was seeking bail in an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) case registered against him in connection with the Delhi Riots of February 2020.
Pais sought bail for his client before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat. The lawyer argued that the FIR 59/2020, which contained Sections of the Indian Penal Code and the (UAPA), relied on a purported video footage of Khalid giving a speech on January 17, 2020. The video was released on YouTube and aired by news channel Republic TV.
The senior lawyer said that letters were written to media houses by the Delhi Police seeking the raw footage of the purported video. However, in their replies, the channels had said that the basis of their story was Malviya’s purported tweet.
Pais also claimed that the police hadn’t originally seen the video, but relied on the news channel’s telecast, waiting till March 6, 2020, to lodge an FIR. The senior counsel then played the "full video" after arguing that the police had with it a "truncated" version "copied from the tweet".
“On March 6 when they registered an FIR, they had no other information. (Generally) when a crime takes place, FIR is registered underlying that there is a crime. Clearly Delhi Police had nothing but Republic TV and CNN News 18,” he said.
After the video was played, Pais said, "This is starting point and what does it say; ʼaap humaare khilaf hinsa karenge...Hum jhande fehrayenge... Hum haste haste jail jaayenge (If you act violently against us... We will unfurl the flag... We we will happily walk inside the jail). He (Khalid) does not call for violence, violent methods. He speaks about the fears that people faced at Jamia..."
The counsel submitted that it was the defense putting the video footage on record with the bail application. "This is the best evidence they have and I produced it in my bail application. They did not produce it," he said.
He also argued that the full form of UAPA had "prevention" in it.
“Where did you prevent it? And then your Act kicks in after the so-called unlawful activity. Why does it happen? Because it does not have trust in the judiciary,” argued Pais.
“Distrust of judiciary is UAPA, POTA, PMLA. These enacted so that your (court) hands are tied,” he added. According to Pais, in a “fair world” FIR 59/2020 should have not been registered "in the first place".
He said that in about 750 FIRs in connection with the Delhi Riots, Khalid was not arraigned in any of them, but on March 6, 2020, “emerged a template” to include anybody.
“It was an FIR framed in such a broad manner so that you get statements to frame people. All statements are such an after-thought. Some witness say something... It is all cooked up...Chargesheet is a complete fabrication,” he submitted.
The lawyer further stated,
“This is a joke. On March 6 you had nothing and then you got statements as and when you wanted to arrest someone. No accused should be held in this FIR. This is a cooked up a FIR.”
Pais also argued on the aspect of a witness statement where the latter was stated to have claimed that he had seen Khalid and co-accused persons Tahir Hussain and Khalid Saifi hold a meeting. The lawyer claimed that the same witness had contradicted himself in the subsequent statements given to the police.
"It is the same tailor which makes clothes for different people. In the statement in itself the witness is contradicting himself," Pais argued.
The hearing will continue on September 3.