Bibhav Kumar, Bibhav

Delhi Police personnel leave Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence after recreating the scene of assault on AAP MP Swati Maliwal with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s aide Bibhav Kumar, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Photo: PTI)

A court here on Tuesday granted three-day custody to the Delhi Police for questioning Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s aide Bibhav Kumar, who is accused of assaulting AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Swati Maliwal.

The court said the Delhi Police cannot be “deprived of the right” to recover the mobile phone which was in his possession at the time of the alleged attack on the chief minister’s official residence on May 13.

Metropolitan Magistrate Gaurav Goel said, “The presence of the accused in the room where the NVRs (network video recorders) are installed cannot be denied. According to this court, the reason for his staying there for a substantial period of time is clearly a question which needs to be investigated and requires custodial interrogation.”

An NVR is a specialized computer that records security video surveillance footage in digital format to a hard drive.

Noting Maliwal’s specific allegation that Kumar had recorded the incident on his cell phone, the court said, “The investigating agency cannot be deprived of its right to make best efforts to recover the mobile phone in possession of the accused.”

The court accepted the city police’s application for Kumar’s custody, taking into account his “genuine requirements”.

“The application filed by the investigating officer (IO) is partly accepted and the accused is remanded to three-day police custody,” the court said, asking the city police to produce Kumar before it on May 31. The police had sought his five-day custody.

The court also accepted Kumar’s application for medicines and daily meeting with his lawyers, wife and daughter.

During the proceedings, Additional Public Prosecutor (APP) Atul Shrivastava said that Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) of the IPC has been added to the case as, according to CCTV footage, Kumar was seen standing for about 20 minutes in the rooms where the NVRs were installed.

However, the initial CCTV footage provided to the police for the relevant time was blank, the APP said, adding, “There is a strong possibility that the accused may have tampered with the evidence.”

Srivastava said that between the registration of the FIR and Kumar’s arrest, he had visited some places outside Delhi and in a video, he was seen roaming around with two mobile phones.

“As per the statement of the complainant, the accused has videographed the incident which needs to be investigated and he needs to be taken into custody and questioned to recover the mobile,” the APP said.

Kumar’s lawyer opposed the Delhi Police’s plea for his custodial interrogation, claiming that they have no evidence against him and there is no justification for seeking his custody.

He claimed that the police wanted to “humiliate” Kumar and “fabricated false evidence at the behest of Maliwal”, who is an “influential person”.

The advocate claimed that due to the delay in filing the FIR, the Delhi Police now wants to “fill the gap” by taking Kumar into custody.

On Monday, Kumar’s bail plea was rejected by the sessions court, which said that Maliwal appeared to have no pre-planned filing of the FIR and her allegations cannot be dismissed.

Kumar was arrested on May 18. The magistrate court sent him to five days of police custody the same day, saying his anticipatory bail plea had become infructuous because of the arrest. Last Friday, he was sent to four days of judicial custody.

An FIR was registered against Kumar on May 16 under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including criminal intimidation, assault or use of criminal force to a woman with intent to disrobe, and attempt to commit culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

first published: 28 May 2024 | 10:26 PM First

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