The Delhi High Court on Tuesday transferred to another bench of the HC a plea that sought quashing of reports by “private and extrajudicial commissions” pertaining to violence that occurred during the 2020 Northeast Delhi riots.
A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad observed that matters pertaining to the same controversy are assigned to Divisional Bench-II, and thereafter directed the transfer of the plea to the said bench, which is headed by Justice Siddharth Mridul. The matter is next listed on February 10.
The Central government in its affidavit dated September 19, 2022 has informed the court, that this “sinister practice” has now become a norm wherein after certain crimes, a “motivated malicious sinister device is created by certain vested interest individuals, private organisations, NGOs, etc to give the offence political/communal flavour of being backed by the government of they day, helping a particular community” and discrediting the statutory investigation that is happening in the case.
The Centre has alleged that these “private organisations first create a social media storm and generate a biased narrative accusing the government of the day of being the mastermind of such offence against the said particular community/caste”. The narrative then metamorphs into a national debate by a section of the media and social media influencers who also share the same vested interest and mostly operate unregulated, it said.
The affidavit states that to generate a negative public opinion on the basis of the “fake, false or half true facts”, these private organisations constitute “private and extrajudicial commissions” headed by retired bureaucrats, constitutional functionaries or self-proclaimed activists who have personal association with such private organisations.
It said that based on the fake, false or half-true facts presented before it, these private and extrajudicial commissions enter into a so-called process of “collecting and recording evidences to give it a façade of statutory inquiry or investigation”. “After conducting such exercise, (they) come out with a completely biased report which in most of the cases is found to be a report acting as a cover-up to the offence and portraying real accused as victims of the crimes and real victims the accused of crimes,” the Centre’s affidavit said.
The Centre’s affidavit is filed in support of the public interest litigation moved by one Dharmesh Sharma, who alleges that his family-run school in Delhi’s Mustafabad area was burned down during the 2020 Delhi riots. He sought quashing of different reports prepared by the Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Citizens and Lawyers Initiative on the riots. He has also sought quashing of an inquiry panel set up by an organisation called Constitutional Conduct Group. Sharma has claimed that reports published by the DMC as well as other organisations are misleading, biased and impede the due process of law.
The Centre has also said that these reports have ignored that Delhi Police acted in a fair and impartial manner and more than 750 FIRs were registered and three Special Investigation Teams were set up to ensure a fair investigation. The Centre has alleged that the “tone and tenor of the reports is biased to sway the public opinion in favour of a particular community”.
On the fact-finding committee constituted by DMC, the Centre said that it was set up to send a wrong message on the lawful actions against the Delhi Police. Referring to statements from the DMC report which said that “Delhi is suffering from violence by police and goons against peaceful protestors against CAA/NRC”, the Centre said that it had drawn its conclusions at the outset acting in a premeditated manner. The Centre also assailed the jurisdiction of the DMC to carry out the fact-finding exercise, stating that the DMC Act does not empower it to do so.
The Centre has also alleged that the DMC’s report is silent on the comments made by Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam or on the provocative actions of Jamia Coordination Committee or Bhim Arm who had blocked roads in the capital in the name of protests.