Independent inquiry sought into police brutality on Jamia students

Probe should exclude the police, requests senior advocate

Updated - August 05, 2020 08:09 am IST

Published - August 04, 2020 11:57 pm IST - New Delhi

Students protesting against the CAA and the NRC at the Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi on January 30, 2020. 
Photo: Bibek Chettri

Students protesting against the CAA and the NRC at the Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi on January 30, 2020. Photo: Bibek Chettri

A bunch of petitions, filed in connection with the December 2019 violence during the Jamia Millia Islamia University protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), sought the Delhi High Court to constitute an independent enquiry to probe the police brutality on students inside the campus.

In a marathon hearing, which went for around six hours, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for activist and advocate Nabila Hasan, said there should be an independent probe which should completely exclude the police.

“We cannot expect the police to conduct a fair inquiry when their chargesheet say not a single police officer carried out any illegal activity during the violence,” Mr. Gonsalves remarked, adding that the police themselves destroyed the public property.

Mr. Gonsalves also called for an independent probe into the incident of setting a bus on fire, claiming that there was evidence to suggest that it was done by the police to support a false narrative that students had indulged in arson. He submitted CDs containing videos related to the incident, which he said should be looked into.

A parallel

The senior advocate also cited the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court in the Manipur fake encounter case to argue that the police can’t be trusted with the investigation. He said that the protest march towards the Parliament was a political embarrassment for the government, which was why the police beat up the students mercilessly.

Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, representing one of the petitioners, Anshu Kapoor, also sought an independent committee to probe the police brutality. He said that the police should not become a judge in its own cause.

Mr. Khurshid pointed out that since there was a public road dividing the Jamia campus, students had gathered on the road where they were also joined by others. He said the university must provide space for students to protest.

Ethos of democracy

He said the march towards the Parliament was an ethos of our democracy even if it was a dissent towards the government. He also took the attention of the High Court on the issue of absence of protocol for enforcement agencies to follow while entering universities. In the Jamia violence case, the police had entered the varsity without seeking any prior permission.

Mr. Khurshid also said that the High Court could consider giving compensation to the students who were victims of excessive police force.

During the hearing, senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for another petitioner, Vaibhav Misra, also urged for an independent inquiry into the police’s misconduct.

Ms. Jaising questioned why the police entered the varsity when the alleged law and order situation which took place according to the police happened outside the campus. When Section 144 was not declared in the area, the question of unlawful assembly doesn’t arise, Ms Jaising argued, adding that police must also face trial for their misconduct. “Just because you wear uniform, it doesn’t give you a right to blind a student,” Ms Jaising said, adding that the brutailty shown by police was with the intention of “teaching a lesson to the students with a danda”.

As the hearing remain inconclusive, the court posted the case for further hearing on Wednesday.

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