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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Are police trying to shield anyone through shoddy probe: AAP on riots cases

AAP MLA Atishi cites instances of courts pulling up police to make her case

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | New Delhi |
Updated: September 4, 2021 10:05:50 pm
AAP MLA Atishi (File)

Critical observations made by various courts on the Delhi Police investigation into the Northeast Delhi riots suggest that the “real culprits are being shielded”, the AAP said Saturday, questioning the decision of Lt Governor Anil Baijal to allow a panel of lawyers chosen by the police to argue the cases.

Addressing a press conference, AAP MLA Atishi said the status of the investigation, including the fact that chargesheets have been filed in “only 35 out of 750 cases lodged in connection with the riots” so far, and the repeated strictures from the courts have made it clear that the police are not doing their job properly.

“Had it been one critical observation or even two, one could have argued that mistakes do happen. But courts at every level are pointing out gaping holes in the investigation, refusing to accept witnesses, questioning the lack of evidence to back those witnesses. One judge has said the failure of the investigating agency to conduct a proper investigation will torment the sentinels of democracy. What can be more serious than this? There are questions on arrests as well non-arrests,” Atishi said.

On Thursday, a city court discharged former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain’s brother and two others in a riots case. Hussain, who remains in jail, was suspended by AAP from the party’s membership after allegations against him surfaced in connection with the riots.

On Friday, while granting bail to five persons arrested last year for allegedly being part of an anti-CAA protest during which head constable Ratan Lal sustained fatal injuries, the Delhi High Court observed that the sole act of protesting cannot be used as “a weapon to justify the incarceration” of those exercising this right.

Atishi said the AAP was raising questions on the investigation not merely because the Delhi Police comes under the administrative control of the BJP-led Union government. To make her case, she went on to cite instances of the courts pulling up the police.

“Time and again, courts at various levels have questioned the police. We want to know if the police are trying to shield anyone through their shoddy probe? Justice Muralidhar had asked the police way back in February 2020 why action had not been taken against leaders who made provocative speeches. On the response of the police that they had not heard the speeches, clips were played in the court showing the speeches. The courts have observed that the police seem to be bringing fake witnesses. In one instance, granting bail to a 65-year-old, the court said he appeared to be the victim rather than an accused. Courts have underlined that the probe shows vindictiveness and non-application of mind on the part of the police,” Atishi said.

On February 26, even as the violence raged, a bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Talwant Singh had directed the police to take a “conscious decision” to register FIRs against leaders who made hate speeches, saying the court won’t allow “another 1984 under our watch”. That day, Justice Muralidhar was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court following approval of a February 12 recommendation from the Supreme Court collegium.

“It is crystal clear now as to why the L-G approved the panel of lawyers chosen by the Delhi Police to argue the cases. The special public prosecutors appointed in the cases are not even properly briefed by the police. On the day of the hearings, they get copies of the chargesheets over emails. The BJP’s police and the BJP’s L-G do not want a proper investigation at all,” Atishi added.

The Delhi government has moved the Delhi HC challenging the decision of the L-G on the appointment of lawyers in riots cases and cases related to the violence during the farmers rally on January 26.


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