A Delhi fast track court that convened on Friday morning to hear arguments on the quantum of sentence against Shiv Kumar Yadav, the former Uber driver convicted of rape, was presented with an unusual situation: the convict was absent.
The reason was even less usual. According to the Special Public Prosecutor, Yadav could not be produced because there were no policemen to bring him from Tihar jail.
As the court deferred the hearing to November 3, it emerged that the 3rd battalion of the Delhi Armed Police had requested district courts to “adjourn the hearing” of over 1 lakh undertrials because the force was busy arranging security for the over 40 heads of state and government from Africa for the India-Africa Forum Summit in the capital next week.
With the summit scheduled to be held from October 26-29, the battalion, which is in charge of ferrying convicts and undertrials, requested the courts to adjourn hearings for nine days from October 21. “This is an unprecedented situation but then, this is the first time we have ramped up security in the city to this level,” said a senior police officer.
The office of the District and Sessions Judge (Head Quarters) subsequently issued a circular to district courts to “take into consideration” the request of of the DCP, 3rd Battalion.
The circular, which was examined by The Indian Express, states that the 3rd Battalion has cited “non-availability of forces” due to which “it would be difficult for the police to accompany the undertrials in various jails and to produce them in courts”.
The District and Sessions Judge’s office stated in the circular: “In the aforesaid circumstances, all the courts dealing with criminal matters in Delhi are impressed upon to take into consideration the aforesaid request of the DCP, 3rd Battalion, DAP, Delhi.”
Police sources said that of the 1,800 personnel in the battalion, nearly 1,000 have been deputed for security arrangements for the summit. “All the police stations have been informed that if they produce any accused between October 26-29, they will have to do so in Tihar jail where the special court will be presided by a duty magistrate,” sources said.