Former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid. | Umar Khalid via Twitter

Activist Umar Khalid’s lawyer told the Delhi High Court on Thursday that mere membership of WhatsApp groups does not make his client criminally liable in the 2020 Delhi riots case when nothing objectionable has been attributed to him, Live Law reported.

Khalid, arrested on September 14, 2020, is facing charges under the Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to fuel riots in North East Delhi in February 2020.

From February 23 to February 29 in 2020, clashes broke out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing the law. The violence claimed 53 lives and hundreds were injured. The majority of those killed were Muslims.

On Thursday, a special bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar was hearing an appeal filed by Khalid, challenging the trial court’s order denying him bail in the larger conspiracy case.

The prosecution claimed that Khalid was part of five WhatsApp groups, Live Law reported. Senior Advocate Trideep Pais, appearing for Khalid, said his client had remained silent in two such groups.

In the remaining three groups, Pais said that only four messages sent in the WhatsApp chats were attributed to Khalid. However, the messages neither incited nor called for riots, Pais argued.

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