Special CP’s order to team probing riot cases caused no prejudice: HC

The Delhi High Court on Friday remarked that “no prejudice” was caused to members of any community by an order issued by Special Commissioner of Police (Crime and Economic Offences Wing) Praveer Ranjan asking all the Investigating Officers and teams that are probing the cases related to the north-east Delhi riots to exercise caution while making arrests.

Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, however, observed that in future, “in issuing any letter/order in such type of situation, the officer concerned shall take due care”. The court also suggested the investigating officers in the riots cases “not to be influenced” by any instructions issued by senior officers which is not recognised under the law.

The court made the remarks while hearing a joint petition filed by two individuals whose family members died in the riots claiming that the July 8 order of the Special CP caused “illegal interference” in the ongoing investigations with the intent of influencing the said investigations.

Justice Kait noted: “Since the accused in the case have already been chargesheeted” before July 8, no prejudice has been caused to anyone.”

The court also took note of the submission made by Delhi Police’s counsel Amit Mahajan that till now, 535 people from Hindu community and 513 people from the Muslim community have been chargesheeted in connection with the north-east Delhi riots.

Mr. Mahajan stated that in the FIR lodged in the first petitioner’s case, 16 people have been arrested, who are currently in judicial custody. In the other FIR of the second petitioner, six person have also been arrested. In both the cases, all the accused are from Hindu community, he said.

Mr. Mahajan further said that the petition was “totally mischievous” and an attempt to influence the trial courts which are hearing the riot cases.

Advocate Mehmood Pracha, representing the petitioners, argued that though police may claim to have arrested 16 people, they have not arrested the main culprits. Mr. Pracha also submitted that there was no provision in Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) or any other law under which the senior officers can give such direction to an investigating officer.

Justice Kait said he has perused the affidavit submitted by Delhi Police where similar type of letters have been issued in the past by senior officers. “So this is not a first letter issued by this officer [Mr. Ranjan],” the court said.

During the hearing, Mr. Mahajan, citing a news article run by an English daily on the letter, said the news report tried to “sensationalise and communalise the issue” as it tried to “selectively read one line and ignore other” from the letter. He urged the High Court to pass some direction so that media should exercise caution.

This is objected by Mr. Pracha saying that “such order cannot be made against media from exercising it freedom of speech”.

”While going through the present petition, I noticed that the electronic and print media has published some news which is against the letter and spirit of the order issued by the CP,” the court said.

”Therefore, media being fourth pillar of democracy, I suggest media houses that news should be done after verifying facts so that any prejudice or hate between either of the community is avoided” the court said.

The petition had sought quashing of the July 8 order claiming that “it gives a clear indication to all the investigating teams to screen offenders if they belong to the Hindu Community”.

The petition stated that on July 15, the office of Commissioner of Police tweeted a clarification to the news article, but does not deny that such an order was indeed passed by the Special CP. The plea quoted the clarification where the police said: “Tone and tenor of the article is highly misleading and seeks to give an impression of the police being biased”.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2020 9:35:55 AM |

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