The Delhi High Court on Monday ordered the Delhi Police Commissioner to fix the responsibility for the “serious lapse” outside the residence of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal last month. The court termed the incident of vandalism, which happened outside the CM residence on March 30, as a “very disturbing state of affairs”.
A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla said, “this kind of incident happening at the residence of any constitutional functionary — whether it is the CM, it could be a Judge of the High Court or Supreme Court, it could be any other Union Minister...this is a very disturbing state of affairs.”
It added, “That this kind of a thing could in the first place occur or such miscreants should succeed in their endeavour...You seriously need to look into your efficiency and functioning,” the High Court told the police.
The court described the incident as “a failure on part of the force” and asked the Commissioner of Police to look into the lapse on part of the police.
“The bandobast [security arrangement] outside the residence of the CM and the road leading to the residence, in the wake of the permission sought on behalf of Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha, which was declined, was not adequate,” the Bench said.
On March 30, workers of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), including its national president Tejasvi Surya, led a protest outside Mr. Kejriwal’s residence over remarks made by him on the movie The Kashmir Files. The protestors subsequently turned violent, allegedly breaching the barricades and vandalising the front gate of the CM residence.
Following this AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj moved the High Court seeking the constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the incident.
After perusing the status report, filed by the police in a sealed cover, the High Court said, “in our view, the aforesaid lapse is a serious lapse and should be looked at by the Commissioner of Police [CP], Delhi Police”.
“He [CP] should inquire into firstly whether ‘bandobast’ was adequate, secondly the reasons for the failure of the arrangements made, and thirdly fix the responsibility for the lapse which admittedly has occurred,” the High Court said.
The High Court said it was not satisfied with the police status report and granted two weeks to the CP to file a further status report, including on the aspect of the review of the CM’s security.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Delhi Police, said the investigation into the incident was ongoing and a review of the CM’s security has been undertaken.
“Responsibility has to be fixed so that remedial action is taken…It is the constitutional office we are concerned with,” the High Court remarked.
Mr. Bhardwaj, in his petition, had alleged that the attack and vandalism appeared to have been carried out with the “tacit complicity” of the Delhi police.
The petition sought directions to be issued to the Delhi police and to the Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure the security of the Chief Minister.
“Videos and photographs show that these goons casually walked through the security cordon [maintained by Delhi police], kicked and broke the boom barrier, broke the CCTVs cameras with ‘lathis’, threw paint on the gate of the residence, and almost climbed over the gate, while Delhi police personnel simply looked on, doing little to stop the protesters,” the plea said.
“In this case, the violence was especially egregious as it was directed towards the Delhi CM and his family. It was meant to subdue, by the use of force, the highest elected official in NCT of Delhi and therefore the elected government of Delhi. This was a direct attack on democracy,” the plea added.
The plea said that those who were charged with the protection of the Delhi CM, that is, police, completely abdicated their duty, without any regard for the fact that they were protecting an elected constitutional functionary and the fact that he was given Z+ security by the police themselves.
The High Court will hear the case again on May 17.