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‘Confession leak’: Court tells Delhi Police not to brush it aside

Delhi Police counsel Amit Mahajan earlier submitted before the bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru that the vigilance probe, with regard to leaking of confessional statement from the case diaries, has concluded.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: November 27, 2020 2:17:18 pm
delhi riots, northeast delhi riots, delhi police, stone pelting, delhi govt, indian expressDelhi Police Tuesday told the Delhi HC that it does not have the authority to appoint Special Public Prosecutors (SPPs), but had recommended the names to the Delhi government in the Delhi riots cases.(Express file photo by Praveen Khanna)

THE DELHI High Court Thursday gave a week’s time to Delhi Police to submit a status report on the vigilance inquiry conducted into the alleged leaking of a confession statement of an accused in a Northeast Delhi riots case. It also asked police to indicate further steps they propose to take.

Delhi Police counsel Amit Mahajan earlier submitted before the bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru that the vigilance probe, with regard to leaking of confessional statement from the case diaries, has concluded. The court asked police to make sure the report is not “something brushed under the carpet” or it will have to pass a direction.

“What is the next step after vigilance inquiry? It can’t be that a document got leaked,” observed the court during the hearing of a petition filed by Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, against leaking of the “disclosure statement” of his alleged confession by police to the media. Tanha has been in judicial custody since May. In its previous hearings, the court had asked Zee News to disclose the source from where it got the statement, after police asserted that none of its officials had leaked the same.

Advocate Siddharth Aggarwal, who represents Tanha, Thursday submitted that the damage, by publishing such a statement when his bail was pending, has been done. “I cannot undo that but it is for this reason that the punishment and penalty is the only way for future deterrence,” he argued, adding that the publication could not have been done even at post-chargesheet stage.

However, the bench observed that it is a double-edged sword to look into as in some judgments, courts have said you require full reporting, even when the prosecution has been against reporting. “Reporting in some cases would be necessary… the trial has to be an open trial, except in circumstances requiring otherwise,” it said.

Aggarwal submitted, “An open trial inside a courtroom, but not in the realms of studios where they are going to talk about taking my name, saying that I have made (a) confession, reading that confession as if that is the only part of the chargesheet.”

He added that an inadmissible document was touted on national television as a by-product of investigative journalism, and argued that the state owes a duty to the court as to what they have done and found after their probe.

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