July 10, 2020 2:07:08 am
The Delhi High Court Thursday pulled up Delhi Police for filing an affidavit in a petition by Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita, saying that some of the allegations made by the police were “not warranted” and that the court was “not sure if the facts (in the affidavit) have any basis”. It also said that some allegations “have been made irresponsibly”.
Kalita (31) had sought directions to the police not to leak allegations about her to the media while investigation was pending. As per her petition, Kalita is accused in four FIRs, including one for allegedly participating in protests in Darya Ganj on December 20 last year and two for her alleged role in the anti-CAA Jafrabad sit-in protest in February.
Police, in their counter affidavit filed on July 7, had alleged that Kalita and Pinjra Tod had started a “media trial” to gain public sympathy and influence and generate public opinion in her favour.
The court said Thursday that police cannot say it was putting out information in the media since the petitioner wanted a media trial. “This can’t be the approach of the State (police). There has to be some restraint that they (police) have to follow,” Justice Vibhu Bakhru said, adding that multiple allegations have been made in the affidavit which go beyond the scope of the petition, and suggested that it be withdrawn.
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“Petitioner (Kalita) herself is guilty of peddling a false social media narrative of state-sponsored oppression and subjugation against a particular community which incited the Delhi riots, and after the riots, she is guilty of peddling a false narrative of a political vendetta, state-sponsored pogrom, persecution and malicious prosecution against the said community,” police had stated in their counter affidavit.
The court pointed out that it had asked for a “personal affidavit” of the DCP concerned, detailing the facts regarding a press note circulated to the media on June 2. “Such allegations were not warranted in the present proceedings,” it said, adding that since the allegations were now on record, they would be “tested”.
“If the affidavit remains on record… it will comment upon its contents,” the court said, adding that “we are not sure the facts (in the affidavit) have any basis. Some of the allegations have been made irresponsibly.”
“We cannot allow this affidavit to be taken on record unless someone takes 100% responsibility (for the averments in it). This is a court of record,” Justice Bakhru said.
The court also clarified that in the instant petition, it was only going to examine under what circumstances Delhi Police or any agency can issue official communiques or press notes about a case and in what manner. Making it clear that there cannot be a gag order, Justice Bakhru said, “We are not in a happy situation. You (police) read your affidavit. It goes beyond, what is being examined…”
Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, appearing for Delhi Police, said he will not rely upon the counter affidavit filed and confine his arguments to the point of law. Kalita’s counsel Adit S Pujari raised objections to the affidavit being allegedly shared with the media. The court said, “This is an exercise in futility… It (a document) passes so many hands before being filed…” It listed the matter for further hearing on July 15, when the ASG will make his submissions.
In her petition, Kalita also sought directions to police to “forthwith withdraw all allegations” contained in the June 2 “brief note”. The court on June 10 had already restrained police from “issuing any statements or circulating information regarding allegations and evidence allegedly collected” against Kalita.
Police, however, in its counter affidavit, said it was not placing details of the probe conducted so far in the four FIRs, in which “active and pivotal role of accused-petitioner has emerged”.
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