Delhi

Delhi courts take police to task over riots probe

Security personnel and residents at riot-hit Shiv Vihar in north-east Delhi.

Security personnel and residents at riot-hit Shiv Vihar in north-east Delhi.

From Delhi Police being pulled up for its ‘lackadaisical approach’, ‘callous attitude’ and ‘confused conduct’ in handling the north-east Delhi riots cases to costs being imposed on the State for prosecutors skipping proceedings and seeking adjournments, there have been several instances where the city courts have rapped the investigating agencies probing the 2020 communal violence. Several directions were issued to senior police officers to address the inefficiencies.

With nearly two years passing since the incident, here’s a look at some of the scathing orders that grabbed the eyeballs last year.

In September, a court had noted that the “failure of the investigating agency to conduct a proper investigation by using latest scientific methods will surely torment the sentinels of democracy”, while discharging former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain’s brother Shah Alam and two other accused in a case of alleged loot and vandalisation of a shop in the Chand Bagh area.

The court further noted that as a result of the ‘callous’ and ‘indolent’ investigation, the complainant/victim suffered pain and agony with their case remaining virtually unsolved. “The sort of investigation conducted and the lack of supervision thereof by the superior officers clearly depict that the investigating agency has merely tried to pull the wool over the court’s eyes and nothing else,” the court noted.

‘Hurried and unholy’

Similarly, hearing a matter related to an explosion inside the Madina Masjid in Shiv Vihar and a saffron flag being hoisted upon it, a court in April noted that the police had proceeded in the matter in ‘unholy haste’. The complaint in the case was lodged by Hashim Ali, which was tagged along with another case of vandalism, in which Ali himself was arrested. The judge had rapped the Investigating Officer (IO) in open court when he was not able to give a satisfactory answer to the delay in the probe.

The police were also pulled up recently for ‘harassing’ a riot victim by repeatedly serving him notice despite him having submitted all relevant documents to the police. The applicant, Mohd. Salman, told the court that he hadn’t received any acknowledgement from the IO despite submitting the documents.

While noting the police’s silence about the status of the investigation and their insistence on taking the statement of Salman’s new landlord where he had taken refuge after his house in west Karawal Nagar was attacked, the court directed the Joint Commissioner of Police (Eastern Range) to file a report on the status of the probe and not harass the complainant and witness unnecessarily.

Lack of supervision

In another case of clubbing different complaints into a single FIR, a court observed that “there was a complete lack of supervision of investigation(s) by the senior police officers of the district and that the investigating agency has evidently been found to be on the wrong side of the law”.

“The issue of clubbing and joining the investigation of different complaints into one FIR is basically to protect the accused, even if the offence is same,” the judge noted. It dismissed a review petition filed by the police, challenging a Metropolitan Magistrate Court’s order, directing lodging of a separate FIR in the case of Nisar Ahmed, whose complaint regarding vandalism of his house was tagged with another complaint which didn’t name any accused.

“Ludicrous and preposterous”, a court had noted in another order while pulling up the police for not knowing from March till November last year that the complaint filed by Salim, whose house was allegedly vandalised by a mob, was already clubbed with another case.

Prosecutors face ire

Courts have also lambasted prosecutors for their lack of coordination with the police, for their absence from hearings, leading to delay in trials.

Noting that no prosecutor was present before the court during a hearing, leading to instances where cases are being adjourned without any proceedings, a court had called the handling of such sensitive cases as ‘a sorry state of affairs’. A fine of ₹3,000 was also imposed on the State by a court this month after the Special Public Prosecutor did not appear in a case for 10 months, that is from the date of filing of the chargesheet in January this year.

In another instance, after noting that the prosecutor failed to appear before it despite repeated calls while the IO came without reading the case file and was not able to answer its queries, a court noted the police and prosecution’s ‘lackadaisical approach’ and directed Delhi Police Commissioner to look into the matter.


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Printable version | May 21, 2022 2:48:16 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/courts-give-no-quarter/article38083828.ece