Updated: November 26, 2021 6:50:40 pm
The Delhi government Friday told the Delhi High Court that the “entire trial” in the cases of Northeast Delhi riots and farmers’ agitation has become “a mockery” as the investigating agency and prosecution have become one after the L-G’s decision to appoint Delhi Police’s chosen advocates as special public prosecutors (SPPs).
“There is no difference between the police and prosecution today. Entire trial is a mockery. If the investigating agency is allowed to enter the domain of the prosecution, what is the fairness left in the entire criminal procedure. This is a basic principle. The police obviously want that people should be tried and they should be punished but a prosecutor is the officer of the court. He is not blood thirsty. Prosecution’s only allegiance is to the truth and to the majesty of the court and today with these orders, the prosecution and the investigating agency, there is complete synergy between them,” said senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government.
The submission was made during the hearing of the Delhi government’s petition challenging the L-G’s decision to appoint Delhi Police’s chosen advocates as special public prosecutors (SPPs) to conduct the cases. Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the government, told the court that four weeks’ time was given in August to the L-G and Centre to file a reply, but no counter affidavit has been filed.
“The entire public prosecutorial system of NCT is in chaos and disarray because L-G, according to us, jurisdictionally cannot decide individual cases,” submitted Singhvi, adding, “we are in great urgency because this is an uncertainty which is avoidable in Delhi.”
Mehra argued that public prosecutors are under the domain of the local government and the Supreme Court has laid down the principles on how Delhi is going to be governed. “The constitutional bench said it is purely in the domain of the state government and L-G is bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers. L-G has gone completely contrary to that and appointed prosecutors based on the suggestion of Delhi Police,” he contended.
The court listed the case for hearing on January 28 after the Centre and L-G sought time to respond to the plea.
The government in the petition stated before the court that it had rejected the Delhi Police’s request to appoint its chosen advocates as SPPs in January and March on the ground that the ‘prosecutor’ must be independent of the ‘investigator’ in keeping with the prosecutor’s role as an independent officer of the court and in order to fulfil the constitutional guarantee of a fair trial.
The Cabinet agreed to appoint independent SPPs which was not agreeable to the L-G, it added. The L-G had then referred the issue to the President who approved the appointment of SPPs. The police-chosen SPPs will seriously jeopardise the fair trial in these cases and the L-G’s belief that they will act independently is merely wishful thinking, the government has argued.
In January 2021, the Delhi Police had sought an appointment of three SPPs to conduct cases relating to the Northeast Delhi riots and anti-CAA protests. In February 2021, police had sought appointment of 11 SPPs chosen by it for cases relating to the farmers’ agitation. After a difference of opinion between the government and L-G, the President approved the appointments in August.
Similarly, the President had last year also approved the Delhi Police’s list of 11 SPPs for cases relating to the riots after a difference of opinion between the government and L-G. Though the government has not challenged last year’s notifications, the same are under challenge in a petition filed by the Delhi Prosecutors Welfare Association.
The government in its petition on Friday said the L-G has been routinely interfering in the appointment of SPPs and undermining the elected government.
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