Satisfied with the Delhi Police Commissioner’s action during Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s dharna, when the prohibitory order was in force, the Supreme Court on Friday disposed of a writ petition questioning the police action.
A Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha and Shiva Kirti Singh after perusing the affidavit of the Delhi Police in a brief order said: “The statements made in the affidavit with regard to the action taken by the police once the dharna began on January 20 at 12 noon, we are satisfied that no further order needs to be passed in the writ petition.”
Earlier Additional Solicitor General Siddharth Luthra explained the series of steps taken by the police, including placing of additional barricades and registration of FIRs. He also informed the court that Section 144 Cr.P.C. prohibitory order was imposed at 5 p.m. on January 19 itself.
When petitioner advocate N. Rajaraman insisted that the police did not take adequate action, Justice Lodha said, “We will not go into the sufficiency of the reason. We will not substitute its (Police) opinion whether the police should remain lax or use lathicharge. Do you want shoot-at-sight orders to be issued? You understand the psyche of the police. They can’t act immediately; in a democracy they have to respect rights under Article 19(1) (a) and can’t take coercive action. The right of an individual and obligation of the State has to be balanced. Decisions were taken fast and they were not dormant and idle. They have done what was required to be done.”
On the last hearing on January 24, the Bench had questioned the police for allowing unlawful assembly of supporters of the Chief Minister and had sought response from the police.
The Delhi Police in its response said if AAP supporters were forcibly removed for unlawful assembly from the dharna site in front of the Rail Bhavan, there was a strong possibility of a heavy backlash which would have precipitated a serious law and order situation and jeopardised the Republic Day celebrations.
It said the present case was not one where unlawful assembly was permitted. The police sought dismissal of the petition saying that the supporters could not be removed owing to traffic movement.