Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal Thursday overturned the Delhi Cabinet’s decision to appoint a panel of lawyers of its own choice to argue the February riots cases in the High Court and Supreme Court.
Baijal invoked Article 239AA(4) of the Indian Constitution and referred the dispute to the President, citing “differences of opinion” with the elected government. In the interim, the panel of lawyers chosen by the Delhi Police and approved by Baijal will argue the cases.
“The L-G invoked special powers granted to him under the Constitution. The Home Department has been ordered to approve the panel chosen by the Delhi Police. The Delhi government will now have to implement the order at any cost as it is mandated by the Constitution,” a CM office statement said.
The north-east Delhi riots claimed the lives of 53 people between February 23 and February 26. There were scores of injuries, widespread arson, and damages to markets.
The Delhi Police, with the LG’s backing, had proposed to the AAP government to appoint six senior lawyers including solicitor general of India Tushar Mehta and additional solicitor general Aman Lekhi as Special Public Prosecutors in the HC and SC in 85 cases related to the riots and anti-CAA -protests.
The government had opposed the proposal after which the matter was placed before the Cabinet last Tuesday based on the directions of the L-G, who could not invoke Article 239AA(4) till the Cabinet had taken a position on the issue.
The Cabinet had expectedly rejected the panel chosen by the police, saying “there have been allegations that the investigations of Delhi Police in these cases are biased and not impartial. The judiciary has also made adverse remarks against Delhi Police investigations on several occasions. Therefore, in order to ensure that all facts are presented before the Hon’ble judges, it is extremely critical that the government advocates are independent of the Police.”
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