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Northeast Delhi riots ‘conspiracy’ case: Find out person who leaked chargesheet, HC tells Delhi Police

In an order passed in July 2020, a single bench of the court had directed police to “not issue any further communication naming any accused or any witness till the charges, if any, are framed and the trial is commenced” in the case.

The court also said the petitioner is absolutely right in saying that the purpose of the Commission is to ensure representation of all minorities. (File)

The Delhi High Court Friday said Delhi Police needs to find out who is behind leaking of chargesheets to the media even before the trial court took cognizance of it, in the alleged conspiracy case filed in connection with the Northeast Delhi riots. It also asked the Commissioner of Police to file a reply regarding the allegations of leaking of the contents by police.

Allowing a prayer by advocate Siddharth Aggarwal, who represents Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, for filing of an additional affidavit regarding the alleged leaking of the supplementary chargesheet in the case last week, the court said it was a “proved allegation” that the chargesheet had been leaked.

Tanha, an accused in the case, in his petition, has challenged the leaking of a purported “confession statement” and its reporting by the media last year.

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“The court was very clear that there will be no briefings from them (the police) before the charge is framed and they cannot circumvent… Let’s see what action should be taken. This is their attitude. Let’s see what has to be done,” observed Justice Mukta Gupta during the hearing of Tanha’s petition on Friday afternoon.

Read |Northeast Delhi riots, one year later: 'Mob has no face, we don't know his killers'

In an order passed in July 2020, a single bench of the court had directed police to “not issue any further communication naming any accused or any witness till the charges, if any, are framed and the trial is commenced” in the case.

During the hearing on Friday, Aggarwal told the court that the supplementary chargesheet was filed before the trial court on February 25 and it was already available with the media the next day. Cognizance of the chargesheet had not been taken on that date and copies of it were yet to be supplied to the accused, he said. He also read before the court an order passed by the lower court on March 2 regarding the alleged leaking and media trial in the case.

“One would have expected that the pendency of this matter would have taught us to behave a little better,” argued Aggarwal. “This is now reaching a position where the only answer that the agency (police) has is ‘I have not done it and I will not take responsibility for anything’.”

Delhi Police opposed the court order directing it to fix responsibility of the officer behind the alleged leaks, and submitted that it will file a reply to the allegations. However, the court said it was only asking to find out the person who is behind it and that “there is nothing to be hyper about”.

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“Fix the responsibility and find the person who is instrumental in leaking. Whosoever is responsible, please fix the responsibility. Don’t do inquiry like you have done earlier. You will have to find out. Who else will do it?” Justice Gupta observed, referring to the vigilance inquiry done by police earlier to probe the leaking of the “confession statement” which has been attributed by Tanha.

The court had earlier called the inquiry report half-baked and a useless piece of paper.

The court also said, “Today, the courts are being light in the sense that they are asking you to find out… otherwise, according to Mr Aggarwal’s contention, it is a clear case where an offence is made out and who will investigate that offence.”

When the counsel representing Delhi Police submitted that these are only allegations, the court said they are all “proved allegations” and police as well as its counsel need to think more if they think that the matter is still at the stage of allegation.

“Once it comes in the media, it is proved that they have it in their possession. It is not an allegation anymore. Your property has already passed on… you have only to ascertain the manner of passing on and who has done it. It is not left at the stage of mere allegation,” said the court.

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