Lawyers’ panel says cops failed to prevent violence

Patiala House Courts attacks: SC committee, Kanhaiya lawyers blame police for inaction; cops insist decision taken "in favour of minimum collateral damage"

Updated - February 25, 2016 08:06 am IST

Published - February 25, 2016 12:00 am IST

The committee of six lawyers appointed by the Supreme Court to visit the Patiala House Court on February 17, when JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar was produced for the remand proceedings, has blamed the police for the situation going out of control and the student being assaulted and injured.

In its report submitted to the Supreme Court, the committee said the atmosphere in the district courts complex was “surcharged, threatening and frightening” and the police had failed in their duty to contain the atmosphere and the crowd.

The panel comprised senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Rajeev Dhavan, Ajit Kumar Sinha, Dushyant Davej, Harin P. Raval and advocate A.D.N. Rao.

The committee found the presence of a man in plain clothes, who had allegedly assaulted Kanhaiya when he entered the court premises, inside the court room intriguing. Delhi High Court's Registrar-General and police officers present in the court room did not take any action to remove him. The committee was told that the man later slipped away.

Mr. Dhawan and Mr. Sibal repeatedly asked all the police personnel how a person whose name was not on the list as per the apex court order could enter the court room, but did not get a satisfactory reply.

Kanhaiya told the lawyers' team that this person, who had assaulted him, could have been arrested “there and then”. “According to the accused, he was beaten with fists and kick blows, amidst constant sloganeering and hurling of abuses at him.”

When the members of the committee left the court room to proceed to the Supreme Court, the atmosphere on the Patiala House Courts premises was surcharged and intimidating. The report said abuses were hurled on Mr. Sibal and other lawyers and there was an attempt to create an atmosphere of fear and terror.

Even though the committee members were walking after being encircled by policemen, sandstones, a half filled plastic water bottle and even a sharp piece of broken flower pot were thrown on them. “But for the security ring provided by the Supreme Court security police, it would not have been possible for the members to come out unscathed.”

One of the committee members, Mr. Raval, video-recorded the entire fact finding enquiry on his personal cellphone. The transcript of recording was also made under personal supervision of a colleague of Mr. Raval.

In another report submitted to the apex court, a group of lawyers representing Kanhaiya at Patiala House Court said the JNU student leader was absolutely shocked and visibly shaken after being subjected to violence.

“He was thoroughly roughed up on way to the court and was beaten repeatedly,” it said.

After the court proceedings were over, the lawyers were made to wait for about three hours in the court room. It was only after their calls to some of the Court Commissioners that the police took action and dropped them at Delhi High Court.

“There was a great hostility and an environment of fear and aggression. The situation throughout remained very tense and not conducive to normal functioning of lawyers or courts, and against the notions of free and fair access to justice,” stated the report.

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