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In this episode, Apurva Vishwanath, Deeptiman Tiwary, and Kanchan Vasdev joined host Snigdha Sharma to discuss the arrest of BJP’s Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, the ensuing drama, the reactions, and most importantly, if due process was followed.
Snigdha Sharma: Hi, I’m Snigdha Sharma and you’re listening to 3 Things, The Indian Express news show. The weekend saw high drama in the National Capital, as Delhi BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, was arrested by the Punjab police from his residence on Friday morning. The rest was in connection with an FIR related to a tweet made by Bagga where he had allegedly threatened Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party chief, Arvind Kejriwal’s life, Bagga has used his Twitter handle, with close to 1 million followers to constantly attack Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. On the 30th of March, Bagga was a part of a protest by the BJP is youth wing outside Kejriwal’s official residence, during which the gates of the chief minister’s house would defacedA. part from many other similar incidents in the past, Bagga is also known for online trolling with provocative statements and name calling. Regarding the latest case. The Punjab police in a statement on Friday said that Bagga had been served five notices, but he deliberately did not join the investigation. The journey to take him to Punjab after his arrest dou was cut short by the police in Haryana intercepting the Punjab police convoy. Later, the Delhi police went on to File an FIR against Punjab police personnel for abducting bugga. And eventually they managed to bring him back from Kurukshetra to the national capital. So to find out all about what went down the reactions, and most importantly, if the due process was followed, we were joined by Indian Express’s Apurva Vishwanath, Deeptiman Tiwary and Kanchan Vasdev. We began by asking Apurva about the legalities of the arrest. So approval, can you tell us what our constitution says about arrests.
Apurva Vishwanath: So the Code of Criminal Procedure is what governs the procedure of arrests and what happens afterwards with an accused. But the guiding principle for the CRPC is in article 22, clause two of the Constitution and that states that every person who’s arrested or is detained and is in the custody of police generally should be produced before a nearest magistrate within a period of 24 hours from the time of arrest. This is done to sort of ensure that the police do not manhandle the person or there is no custodial torture involved. So a magistrate also decides whether your arrest is valid or not and further custody to the police or to a judicial custody is granted at that time.
Snigdha Sharma: Right. So next, if you can tell us if the appropriate guidelines were followed, like when the Punjab police went and arrested Bagga and then the Haryana and Delhi police’s response to Bagga arrest because you spoke to many legal experts right regarding the powers of local police versus another state police, if you can shed some light on this.
Apurva Vishwanath: So, this whole case is not really about due process and whether the right procedure was followed from everything that appears right from the fire itself to the manner in which he was arrested and subsequently what the Delhi police did, everything just shows that it is politics at the heart of this entire episode. The firstly they FIR that staging that buggers tweets threaten the life of the Delhi Chief Minister, Tajindar is a resident of Delhi. So Delhi citizen being a threat to the life of the Chief Minister of Delhi is an offence in Punjab because somebody filed an FIR in Punjab, and now we know that it was done by an AAP member. So then the Punjab police comes to Delhi to arrest. So now again, even in the case of such flimsy FIR such arrests are very normal. You look at how Jignesh Mevani was arrested just last month, how Disha Ravi was arrested in 2021. Interstate arrests are very common, this is how they are done. The local police is informed that such and such an arrest is going to be taking place and then the rest is made. However, there are some best practices or guidelines that high courts have issued time and again, which say that you should not just inform the local police got in spirit it should almost be like the local police is making the arrest so you actually get them to participate in it and then take the custody of the person and transfer it to your state but however that’s not always followed. That’s actually never followed police from one state come pick up somebody and go this whole thing might appear not so friendly for an accused Who’s but that’s how the law has evolved over the years. So there was nothing unusual, really about the way in which Punjab police went about arresting Bagga. And the Punjab police also came that since they were going to produce in before a magistrate within 24 hours, they didn’t need a transit. And that’s also valid point. So the question is whether local police can deny the arrest. This is something when even when we spoke to legal experts, they said power to arrest actually comes from the FIR, which is in Punjab, so the Punjab police has a right to arrest and whether Delhi police can really object to it can deny that arrest or call it an illegal arrest is a moot point and this is something that the court will be looking into in future. Right, but
Snigdha Sharma: Right but Apurva, why did the Delhi police file a missing persons complaint and accused the Punjab police of abducting Tajindar Bagga?
Apurva Vishwanath: Under the CRPC. In case of a missing persons complaint, the police has to make an endeavour to produce the body of the person. So it is a shortcut to what we call as a habeas corpus petition in a high court. So if the family thought that it was an illegal arrest, and Bagga was kept in police custody without legal force, the usual route is to file a Habeas Corpus strict before a High Court, which means the High Court will then look into the validity of the arrest and ask for but that we produced before the court, but this missing persons complaint seems to be a shortcut to that where the police will have to make an endeavour. So in practice, again, what happens in a missing persons complaint is the police wait for 48 hours from the time of filing the complaint, and then sort of look into it because if they don’t expect, will they expect the person to come back within 48 hours? And if not, then the police looks into the issue. But in Bagga’s case, as we saw it play out on news channels the whole day. This sort of sprung into action the moment the complaint was filed, and they said they told the Haryana police to intercept the vehicles noted down the convoy numbers at the Punjab police. So this is the Delhi police filing this complaint despite knowing that the Punjab police had custody of Bagga because they said they noted down the convoy numbers. So it is extremely unusual that police of one state is almost registering a complaint of kidnapping against police of another state, which is what a missing persons complaint is, when there is a missing persons complaint and the person is found to be in somebody’s custody without an explanation that could be escalated to a kidnapping case.
Snigdha Sharma: Right. So after the Haryana police intercepted the Punjab police convoy and detained police personnel, Punjab police went on to file a plea in the High Court. Then we also saw the late night emergency hearing of the High Court on Saturday. So if you can briefly tell us about the case and the arguments that were made by both sides.
Apurva Vishwanath: So the Punjab police when it wants custody, then they had to go before a magistrate the decision of whether an arrest is legal or not is made by a magistrate and not by the police. So when custody of Bagga was transferred by the Haryana police to the Delhi police, all without the intervention of a magistrate, it was obviously something fishy. So a local magistrate had to be approached and the local magistrate in Haryana said that the Delhi police can take custody of Tajinder Bagga. Again, the Punjab police, in fact, went to the Mohali court, where arrest warrant was issued in his name. And then this arrest warrant was again challenged before the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the High Court in a sort of a dramatic midnight hearing, which is very unusual for a complaint of this nature. There are perhaps many such cases every day, but the High Court decided to take it up on priority and state the warrants. So that also shows that the courts are being dragged into this political slugfest. And that’s not a good precedent as well.
Snigdha Sharma: Right. Now, Apurva, obviously, this entire sequence of events is pretty concerning. If you can tell us why.
Apurva Vishwanath: This entire sequence of events is concerning because all of this happens in several cases every day where the law is stretched and misused to the detriment of a citizen who’s being arrested. A political case such as this involving Bogga not only gives the judiciary a tough time in handling these cases, and more often than not, magistrates are under extreme pressure to decide this case, one way or the other. And the other is of course, you know, every state can start doing this, if you look at all the cases filed by central agencies like the CBI or the enforcement directorate, for example, if cases are being filed against politicians in West Bengal, the cases are not filed in ED Calcutta they filed an ED Delhi because the central agencies know that in opposition rule states arrests can be difficult. So this apprehension or this toeing the red line that used to happen earlier is now out in the open and what is the guarantee that different states will strive to uphold the rule of law which means it becomes difficult not only for the centre and states but in this fraught political climate. Even states ruled by different political parties will not have this cooperation at all. And this will hurt genuine cases. You know, forget political cases like the one that we’re seeing right now. But this could actually hurt genuine cases where there is a need to make such an arrest and it just becomes difficult.
Snigdha Sharma: And now coming to Deeptiman, who told us more about Delhi police’s response to Bagga’s arrest, especially the kidnapping complaint. So Deeptiman tell us has something like this ever happened before, where one state police has made such serious charges against another state police.
Deeptiman Tiwary: There have been jurisdictional clashes between police forces of different states even police forces of different districts in the same state. However, at least in my memory of having covered agencies in crime for over 15 years, I do not remember an incident where one state police has lodged a complaint of kidnapping against another state police in that way. It is quite unprecedented, although there may be some cases which are not aware of but this is quite unprecedented and also sets a very interesting precedent which is open to abuse in the times to come because one state police going to another state to arrest a criminal is routinely done Delhi police itself has done so many of such operations continues to such operations. Now if every state police starts for nuances of procedure having been followed or not followed. If every state police begins to register cases of kidnapping against other state police interstate operations will just simply stop and it will not be good for both crime prevention and law and order. Let’s remember that even for central agencies barring the national investigation agency, no central agency has pan India jurisdiction. So what happens if tomorrow CBI or ED which several opposition states keep accusing purposefully deliberately targeting opposition leaders? If these states begin to register kidnapping complaints against an ED team or a CBI team they will be a total mess as far as crime investigation and Law and Order is concerned it’s in a way a bad precedent set by the Delhi police.
Snigdha Sharma: Right so Deeptiman, could you briefly take us through some recent cases which also involve interstate arrests?
Deeptiman Tiwary: As I said that interstate arrests are very common all state police keep doing it and Delhi police itself has done it. Let’s remember Delhi police went to Bengaluru at the peak of farmers protests and arrested environmental activist Disha Ravi. According to Bengaluru police, they were informed only after the arrest had already been made. So it’s almost a similar case like Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga and whether there was an urgency whether Disha Ravi was a dreaded criminal who was going to escape is always a matter of debate, which we will discuss in courts and has been discussed in courts. Similarly, the recent arrest of independent MLA from Gujarat Jignesh Mevani by Assam police for a similar social media post and according to Gujarat police it was informed after Jignesh Mevani had been picked up by Assam Police if and then all procedure station diary entries for me. So there are many similar cases like that earlier in 2013. Former Hizbul Mujahideen Militant Shah had been arrested by Delhi police special cell from Indo- Nepal border in UP this case was later transferred to NIA which found that the case against him was totally concocted. And NIA also raised the issue of why Delhi police did not produce in court in up where it had arrested him in the first place. So all these issues of procedures have been raised earlier. Also, should Delhi police have registered or UP police should have registered a case of kidnapping against Delhi police. I mean, it’s unthinkable very recently up police went to Chennai to arrest a 60 year old man for a social media post against PM Narendra Modi. And again the police was informed later. So should Tamil Nadu police register a case of kidnapping against UP Police if this kind of a thing keeps happening it will be impossible to conduct interstate operations. And let’s remember that law and order Crime Prevention Prevention of terrorist acts can only happen if all state police, all central agencies coordinate and cooperate with each other. Nobody can conduct operations in silos, it won’t be possible. So if that understanding, trust and sense of cooperation is lost at the end of the day, crime prevention, prevention of terror acts will be at a loss.
Snigdha Sharma: And finally, to find out more about reactions to the incident from Punjab, we were joined by Kanchan Vasdev so concern has there been any reaction or to the entire sequence of events of from the Punjab police.
Kanchan Vasdev: Punjab police has not reacted officially on the Bagga issue on the day they he was arrested from Delhi that day, there was a note sent to the media from the police saying that he was sent five notices from April one onwards till fifth of May asking him to join the investigation. Why he failed to do so. So the police had gone there to arrest him. This is all officially but you know off the record, the buzz in the police circles is that the officers are feeling that they have been caught up in the crossfire between Aam Aadmi Party and the BJP and officers feel that if this case of kidnapping that has been snapped on them, if it is not withdrawn, then they can really face a lot they could be bearing on their career, they are actually caught up in the political crossfire. So they feel that it should have been avoided, it should have been done in a different way.
Snigdha Sharma: Okay. And what is the Aam Aadmi Party saying about what happened
Kanchan Vasdev: Snigdha, there has been no reaction from the chief minister or any senior minister on the issue. Party spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang, he gave out a statement on day one stating that Bagga was giving inflammatory statements which are threatening peace and tranquillity in Punjab, so they had no option but to register a case against him and he also said that the BJP trying to interfere in the work of Punjab police, which was fairly taking action against Bagga the Cybercrime police had walked them subsequently five notices were sent to him to join the investigation and appear before the police but he failed to do so. And then when he was finally picked up from Delhi, then Mr. Kang said that BJP had interfered in the police work later, there’s a cabinet minister her Harjot Bains, he also said that Bagga was giving inflammatory speeches and the Punjab police will leave no stone unturned to arrest him, even if he’s in Kabul.
Snigdha Sharma: Right now, Kanchan tell us what are the opposition parties in Punjab saying about Tajnder Bagga’s arrest and the events that followed.
Kanchan Vasdev: The opposition in Punjab has reacted very strongly on the issue starting with the Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh Raja Warring who accused Aam Aadmi Party for misusing the Punjab police for settling personal scores with political opponents to sad Shiromani Akali Dal Chief, Sukhbir Singh Badal, who’s also said the same thing saying that Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann had sublet the police force to Aam Aadmi Party and its convener Arvind Kejriwal, to help him in settling his petty personal scores even former PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu. He also said that Tajinder Bagga could be from a different party, but one could have ideological differences. Also, what political vendetta of Arvind Kejriwal and Bhagawant Mann demand to settle personal scores through Punjab police is a cardinal sin. He said that stop tarnishing the image of Punjab police by politicising it that is how the reactions have been really strong. Also Congress leaders have said that you know, this is extreme intolerance that you know, if you’re trying to arrest Bagga or Dr. Kumar Vishwas by misusing Punjab police so it shouldn’t be done.
Snigdha Sharma: You were listening to 3 Things by the Indian Express Today Show was written and produced by me Snigdha Sharma and was edited and mixed by Suresh Pawar. You can follow us and leave us feedback on Facebook or Twitter @expresspodcast or send us an email at email@example.com and if you like the show, please do subscribe And leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts from, so more people can find us. You can also look for us in the audio section in the top right corner of our website indianexpress.com