Two senior law officers were involved in a tussle in Delhi High Court over the question of who would represent the Delhi Police in a petition concerning the alleged illegal custody of a 25-year-old under UAPA, in the absence of functioning of special courts.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aman Lekhi told the court Wednesday that he has got an oral communication to represent the Delhi Police Commissioner in the habeas corpus petition by Aquil Hussain, seeking direction to produce his sister Gulfisha Fatima, who has been under continued detention since she was arrested on April 9.
However, Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra informed the bench, comprising Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar, that he has a serious objection to the ASG’s submission. Contending that he has mandate under the law to represent the Delhi Police before the High Court, Mehra submitted that he would file his reply to the petition.
The bench orally observed that such issues should not have come up and sought the Supreme Court’s Constitutional bench order on the appointment of Special Public Prosecutor, saying, apart from issue raised in the petition, it would also decide this aspect.
The bench issued notice to the Delhi government and Delhi Police and listed the matter for further hearing on May 29.
“Notice is accepted on behalf of respondents. We may state that both Amit Mahajan, Central Government Standing Counsel, and Rahul Mehra, Standing Counsel for GNCTD, accept notice… We permit both Mr Mahajan and Mr Mehra to file replies… in a week,” the order said.
The controversy has cropped up before the High Court on many occasions, recently on matters related to lodging of FIRs in the hate speech and on the petition by JNU student Sharjeel Imam, who has also been booked under UAPA.
Fatima was arrested in connection with an FIR registered over an anti-CAA protest in Jafrabad on February 22.
As per the NIA Act, offences under the UAPA can be tried only by a special court constituted under the NIA Act. The petitioner’s counsel Mehmood Pracha argued that only a special court could remand a detainee to custody.
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