The Delhi High Court on Friday asked Special Commissioner of Police Praveer Ranjan what was the “necessity” for him to issue a letter to chiefs of teams probing the Northeast Delhi riots, which stated that arrests of “some Hindu youth” from riot-hit areas has led to a “degree of resentment among the Hindu community”.
Justice Suresh Kumar Kait also asked him to place before the High Court “five such letters” issued by him or his predecessor.
“… Such types of letters are not known under CrPC to instruct the officers. However, it is not in dispute that senior officers are duty-bound to guide the officer time and again as per the current situation going on at the particular time,” Justice Kait said.
“Accordingly, I hereby direct Respondent No. 4 (Ranjan) to send five such letters which he or his predecessor issued on receipt of complaint/input/representation in a sealed cover within two days,” he said.
As reported by The Indian Express, Ranjan’s July 8 order had also stated that “due care and precaution” must be taken while making arrests. The order, addressed to senior officers heading probe teams, asked them to “suitably” guide the investigating officers.
The order was challenged in court by families of two persons killed in the February violence — Sahil Parvez, whose father was shot dead near his home, and Mohd Saeed Salmani, whose mother was lynched inside her house. The petitioners had cited The Indian Express report, ‘Resentment in Hindus on arrests, take care: Special CP to probe teams’, published on July 15.
The High Court said a decision on whether notice has to be issued on their petition will be taken after perusing the documents to be filed by Ranjan. It listed the matter for further hearing on August 7.
In pursuance to the High Court’s July 27 direction, the Delhi Police had placed before it the July 8 order signed by Ranjan. The two petitioners, through their counsel Mehmood Pracha, have sought quashing of the order.
Making his submission during the hearing via video conference, Pracha said the order amounts to unlawful and illegal interference in the performance of investigative functions by police officers.
Ranjan, who too was present for the hearing via video conference, said: “I will come with all the orders. I will show the direction issued in this particular matter Mr Pracha is raising.”
“I have very specifically mentioned in the beginning that this is an intelligence input, which we received through some agency. These advisories have been issued to all concerned. Not only by me, by the Special CP Intelligence also… The newspaper title that it was issued in the interest of a particular community. That was not the purpose,” he said.
Ranjan was responding to the High Court query on “what was the occasion to issue such order”.
He also contended before the High Court that the letter was dated July 8, by which time they had already done most of the cases.
To which, the bench observed that “if you have written such a letter in other matters also, then you are justified”.
Central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan, appearing for Delhi Police, urged the High Court that the petition be dismissed with costs. Defending the order signed by Ranjan, Mahajan submitted “it is a highly mischievous petition…”.
At this, Justice Kait observed, “May be mischievous. This letter is also mischievous. We will say. Where was the necessity to issue such a letter? Why was this type of letter issued? He (Ranjan) is a senior IPS officer. He doesn’t know what to be issued, what not to be issued… While sitting in office, issue a letter and think that he has made a great thing.”
Mahajan said “it was not confined to one community. This is mischievously read and interpreted by the counsel for the petitioners as well as The Indian Express. That’s why clarification was issued”.
Justice Kait said: “He is a senior officer; where was the question to issue and under what provision he is giving the direction?”
“Person who is at the spot, he will see, whether to arrest or not to arrest… Every police officer is an officer. It is not that Special CP will teach them, only they will do their duty. They know what has to be done and not to be done,” he said.
Responding to The Indian Express report on July 15, Delhi Police PRO Mandeep S Randhawa wrote: “The letter was written only to inform the investigating officers about the representations being received from both the communities and to sensitise and guide them through the investigation of these cases.”
But there was no such mention in the Special CP’s order which specifically highlighted “resentment among Hindu community” over arrests of “some Hindu youth”.
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