New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to hear student activist Gulfisha Fatima’s plea against her alleged illegal detention in a Delhi riots case after it took a strong exception to her advocate Mehmood Pracha’s taking recourse to heckling and placing reliance on facts that were not on record.
A bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani directed that the petition be placed before another bench on Friday.
Instead of addressing us on merits, Mr Pracha is taking recourse to heckling and seeking to take recourse to facts not in the petition. List before another Bench.., the court said.
We refuse to be addressed by someone who does not know the basics of law, it remarked.
In the habeas corpus petition, Fatima claimed that her custody in a Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) case relating to alleged larger conspiracy that led to the north-east Delhi riots was illegal and she should thus be released.
Delhi police advocate Amit Mahajan told the court that a habeas corpus petition preferred by Fatima’s brother on the same relief was dismissed by the high court last year and the present petition was thus not maintainable.
Pracha informed the court that an appeal against it before the Supreme Court was withdrawn with liberty to approach the high court.
Calling the present petition a second salvo on same relief , the court questioned its maintainability and asked Pracha to take recourse to the remedy available in law.
On the same facts and circumstances, we can’t open this judgement. Tell the trial court that. You can’t keep filing fresh habeas corpus… We are not saying you don’t have a remedy. When it is not maintainable, it is not maintainable. You can’t jump the gun and come here.
Pracha submitted that Fatima was in continued illegal detention and as per a Supreme Court decision, only a special court under NIA Act, and not a sessions court, had the power to extend remand.
As the court stated that once there is a remand order – whether right or wrong – it cannot be set aside in a habeas corpus proceedings, Pracha went on to allege that as of date, there was no remand order in the present case.
Pracha urged the court to take his statement on record after the court said that the same was not part of the pleadings in the case.
The court, however, responded, You are not addressing a rally. You are addressing a court. Show us from your pleadings… File an affidavit to say there is no remand order today. You can’t argue statement of facts at the Bar.
In response to the petition, the police had said the habeas corpus petition filed by Fatima is not maintainable and it is nothing but a blatant abuse of the process of law and deserves to the dismissed with cost.
The response filed by advocates Mahajan and Rajat Nair, representing Delhi Police, claimed that the plea filed by the woman was false, frivolous and vexatious and also abuse and misuse of the process of law.
Asserting that the petition is not maintainable, the police reply stated that on September 16, 2020, the charge sheet was filed before the trial court against Fatima and other accused and cognisance was taken the next day and the woman is in judicial custody pursuant to the trial court’s order, therefore, her detention in judicial custody is legal and valid.
Communal clashes had broken out in north-east Delhi on February 24, 2020 after violence between the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and over 700 injured.
Fatima was arrested in the case on April 11 and is currently under judicial custody.