Says Delhi police took the decision independently

The Centre on Monday denied in the Supreme Court that Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram gave instructions to the Delhi Police for evicting yoga guru Baba Ramdev and his followers from the Ramlila grounds on June 4, 2011.

Solicitor-General Rohinton Nariman made this submission before a Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar, hearing suo motu a petition on the incident.

Replying to arguments by amicus curiae and senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, who alleged that it was under the Minister's instructions that Baba Ramdev was evicted, Mr. Nariman said: “Mr. Chidambaram is not involved in the decision to evacuate Ramdev and his followers at midnight. The Delhi Police took the decision independently and the Home Ministry was made aware of the decision.”

He said: “The Delhi Police do not deal directly with the Home Minister but only up to the level of Secretary.” Justifying the promulgation of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (ban order) by the police that night, he said “the police apprehension of breach of peace, public order and tranquillity cannot be questioned by the court in judicial review.”

Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the Delhi Police, maintained that no lathi charge was ordered and no force was used, and that only teargas shells were fired. He said it was a media propaganda that the police unleashed violence on the people who were sleeping on the dais and in the pandal. “This is untrue”.

However, Mr. Dhavan reiterated that the decision to remove Baba Ramdev was taken much earlier than the night of June 4, 2011. Quoting the press statements and interview of Mr. Chidambaram, counsel said it was under his instructions that the whole eviction exercise was undertaken, and it was hard to believe that the Minister was kept in the dark when the whole incident happened.

Mr. Dhavan maintained that it was a political decision. “Once the talks failed, the green signal was given to evict Baba Ramdev through an administrative order of Section 144 Cr.PC affecting the rights of the people under Article 21.”

Arguments will conclude on January 20 when senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Ramdev, will complete his arguments. On Monday, he handed over footage of CCTV cameras installed on the Ramlila Maidan and those obtained from TV channels.

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