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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Delhi Police wants its own prosecutors on farm protest cases, Delhi govt objects

In a note to Lt Governor Anil Baijal, Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain conveyed the stand of the government that regular additional public prosecutors belonging to the Directorate of Prosecution are "competent enough" to handle the cases.

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | New Delhi |
Updated: July 6, 2021 9:02:38 am
The government's point of view on the farmer protests related cases was spelt out by Jain during a meeting with Baijal on July 1, according to a file noting signed by the former. (Express File Photo by Gajendra Yadav)

The Delhi government has opposed a proposal by the Delhi Police to appoint special public prosecutors (SPPs) in cases filed in connection with the farmers’ protests at the city’s borders and the Red Fort vandalism case.

In a note to Lt Governor Anil Baijal on July 1, Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain conveyed the stand of the government that regular additional public prosecutors belonging to the Directorate of Prosecution are “competent enough” to handle the cases.

A day later, L-G wrote to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, requesting him to hold a meeting of the Cabinet and take a call on the issue. If the Cabinet also reiterates the position taken by Jain, Baijal will be free to invoke Article 239AA(4), which allows him to refer matters on which he fails to arrive at a consensus with the elected government to the President of India.

The Delhi government had taken a similar stand on the police request to appoint SPPs in the Delhi riots cases. The L-G had then invoked Article 239AA(4). The Delhi government had not challenged the decision in the higher courts.

Jain added that Baijal told him that although “no complaint has been received against the public prosecutors”, “we cannot take chances” as Delhi Police has requested that the SPPs be appointed to deal with the cases properly. Baijal also expressed his view that the police request be approved to “ensure conviction and set an example”, Jain wrote.

Baijal made the same point in his letter to the CM. The L-G pointed out the request from the police to appoint 11 SPPs was received on February 26, a month after tractor rallies of protesting farmers “turned violent at several places and clashed with the Police due to which as many as 394 police officials were injured and public as well as private property was damaged. Consequently, 48 FIRs were registered against the miscreants under various sections of law.”

“The Delhi Police has already given a detailed justification for the appointment of 11 SPPs in these matters… These cases are sensitive in nature and require careful handling in a time-bound manner in view of the gravity of the offences and implications for law and order. Therefore, I see no reason why the proposal of Delhi Police… should not be agreed to,” Baijal wrote.

Jain emphasised that SPPs should not be appointed at the behest of the police in the “interest of justice and fair trial” as investigation and prosecution are two different facets. “Prosecutors have duties not only to bring criminals to justice according to the rule of law but also have duties to the accused so that innocent person is not convicted. Requested Hon’ble LG not to insist to appoint SPP on the behest of Delhi Police,” Jain wrote.

In his response, Baijal wrote that there is no reason to suspect that the SPPs wouldn’t perform their duty impartially: “No doubt, the Public Prosecutor represents the State by the virtue of his/her office, he/she is also an officer of the Court and is required to render assistance to the court in arriving at a just and equitable decision. While discharging these duties, the Public prosecutor acts in a manner that is fair to the Court, to the investigating agency as well as to the accused in accordance with the guiding principles of the spirit of law based on precedence, common sense and equity.”

AAP spokesperson Raghav Chadha said the police request was part of “BJP’s vengeful attempts to harass and defame innocent farmers in farmer agitation related cases.” Chadha is the AAP’s co-incharge of Punjab, which is going to polls in 2022. “BJP wants to bring its lawyers, not with the intention of bringing justice to the farmers but to seek revenge,” he alleged.

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