2020 Delhi Riots: Umar Khalid Withdraws Bail Plea from SC

Umar Khalid

Former JNU student Umar Khalid withdrew his bail plea from the Supreme Court on Wednesday in a case filed under the anti-terror law UAPA, alleging his involvement in the conspiracy behind the northeast Delhi riots of February 2020.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Khalid, informed a bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal that Khalid wished to withdraw the bail plea due to “change in circumstances.”

Sibal stated, “I wish to argue the legal question (challenging UAPA provisions) but want to withdraw the bail plea due to change in circumstances. We will try our luck in the trial court.” However, Sibal did not provide further details on the “change in circumstances.”

The bench accepted Sibal’s request and ordered the withdrawal of Khalid’s bail plea.

Khalid had challenged the October 18, 2022 order of the Delhi High Court, which had dismissed his bail plea. The high court refused Khalid’s bail plea, asserting that he maintained constant contact with other co-accused and that the allegations against him were prima facie true. The court also stated that the actions of the accused prima facie qualified as a “terrorist act” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Khalid, along with Sharjeel Imam and several others, faces charges under the anti-terror law UAPA and various provisions of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly being the “masterminds” behind the February 2020 riots, resulting in 53 deaths and over 700 injuries. The violence erupted during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Arrested by the Delhi Police in September 2020, Khalid had sought bail on the grounds that he had no criminal involvement in the violence and no “conspiratorial connect” with any other accused in the case.

The Delhi Police opposed Khalid’s bail plea in the high court, arguing that his speech was “very calculated” and addressed contentious issues such as the Babri Masjid, triple talaq, Kashmir, alleged Muslim suppression, and the CAA and NRC.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte