The Delhi Police Wednesday opposed tweets allegedly describing them as “massive Hindutva machinery” following the arrest of Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita, saying that “it is nothing, but damage to our country”.
Referring to various tweets on the social media, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aman Lekhi submitted before Justice Vibhu Bakhru: “What they are saying is that by prosecuting them… the massive Hindutva machinery is at stake for the purpose of making criminals of innocent people…”
“This is reprehensible… Are you going to communalise the police, by presenting in this manner…,” Lekhi said, adding that “whatever the opinion may be, the comment has to be civilised. This is an uncivilised comment in the extreme. It is nothing but damage to our country. This has to be checked by both sides…”
Justice Bakhru expressed that “this is not against any organisation. They are saying narratives of Jihadis, feminist, communist conspiracies are propagated by Hindutva machinery. They are not saying police is this machinery.” The ASG responded, “Whatever issue may arise, few things which I feel should be left untouched.”
The judge said, “We are also facing this issue. Social media in one sense is a very unruly horse. You don’t know how it picks up. It’s not that anybody or everybody is targeted… But this is the animal, the social media is. It is not only to your agency, but other agencies as well.”
The ASG, accompanied by advocates Amit Mahajan and Rajat Nair, however, submitted: “It is not our case, as seems to be, that there is any endorsement of media trial. That is absolutely not our case too. It is something, which has to be avoided.”
Kalita, 31, had sought directions to the police not to leak allegations about her to the media while investigation was pending. As per her petition, Kalita is accused in four FIRs, including one for allegedly participating in protests in Darya Ganj on December 20 last year and two for her alleged role in the anti-CAA Jafrabad sit-in protest in February.
She has also sought directions to police to “forthwith withdraw all allegations” contained in a June 2 “brief note” handed to the media.
ASG Lekhi submitted that the reason for issuance of the press note was not to prejudice her case or to attack her reputation.
Clarifying that it was not a selective leak as alleged, and was sent to 480 persons who are part of the WhatsApp group of the Delhi Police and media persons, the ASG further said that “the only motivation behind the issuance of the press note was the awareness…”
He contended that “being an institution of social control, there is an accountability, which mandates that the trust deficit does not in any way intervene”.
“Because this (Delhi Police) is a public body and a public body is accountable for its actions…,” Lekhi said. Lekhi added that Kalita never “dissociated” herself from the tweets.
Justice Bakhru observed, “You cannot equate (tweets related to her with) State action… Let us take at the worst, that the information on social media and the campaign on social media is being run by the accused or on their behalf. You can’t equate the two. It’s not a dialogue that is to be played out there. Presumption of innocence is not destroyed by a person who says that I am innocent and runs a campaign to that effect. Presumption of innocence is sought to be destroyed when information contrary to that is leaked in the media. So it is not on an equal footing that you have joined the issue in the public domain.”
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