February 4, 2021 12:37:36 am
A Delhi court has dismissed an application by Jamia Millia Islamia asking for an investigation into alleged police excesses during violence outside and inside the university on December 15, 2019, observing that “excesses committed in trying to control the situation are very much related to official duties”.
The order, passed by Metropolitan Magistrate Rajat Goyal on Wednesday, read: “Though it could be argued that while so acting, the police/respondents had allegedly exceeded their jurisdiction and used more force than necessary in some instances, it cannot be said, by any stretch of imagination, that the said acts… were wholly unconnected to their official duty. Likewise, it could also be argued that the situation perhaps could have been handled by the respondents in a better way and that some restraint should have been shown by the police in order to differentiate between peaceful student protesters and antisocial elements who had attempted to hijack the entire movement. However, the lack of such restraint exhibited by the police and excesses committed in trying to control the situation are very much related to official duties of the respondents.”
The application filed by the university stated on December 15, 2019, civil society members decided to call a peaceful protest near the University against the Citizenship Amendment Act, and “in pursuit of clearing the crowd, police officials broke into the University Campus without seeking any sanction and used excessive and arbitrary force and thrashed several security guards, caused destruction of University property, and fired tear gas shells and conducted lathi charge.” The university had argued that no action was taken by the police in this regard, and asked the court to order an investigation.
Anti-CAA protests outside Jamia that day had spiralled into violence, following which police had stormed the campus. Police had opposed Jamia’s application, arguing that members of the violent mob went inside the campus and started pelting stones on the police and raised provocative slogans. Police reasoned that in order to maintain law and order, they had to enter the university campus and contain the mob by detaining some persons.
The court had said “it cannot be denied the said protests had taken a violent turn in many parts of the country and law and order situation had become tense”.
On the University’s argument that the violence was due to some anti-social elements, the court observed that this argument “is not relevant here as it is not for this court to determine this issue in the present proceedings”.
The court said one aspect that was clear was that “some protests had become violent and that police… were acting to control the said protests at the relevant point of time, so as to prevent violence and prevent law and order situation from further deteriorating”. The court said even though some actions of the police “might be questionable”, their actions were “connected to their official duties”.
“This court has no hesitation in holding that acts allegedly committed by the respondents fall within the purview of section 197 CrPC, being acts committed in discharge of official duties,” it said.
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