Supreme Court asks Delhi police to explain Ramlila Maidan action

Police evict a woman supporter of Baba Ramdev from the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on the night of June 4, 2011. File photo  

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Delhi Police to justify the need for lobbing teargas shells at Ramlila grounds on June 4 to evict those who were sleeping on the dais and in the pandal.

Not satisfied with the response of the Delhi Police to the suo motu notice issued by the court for the ‘eviction incident,' a Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar asked senior counsel Harish Salve, who appeared for the police, to file a detailed affidavit.

Mr. Justice Chauhan questioned the Delhi Police for not registering the FIRs on the complaints of yoga guru Baba Ramdev's followers against the alleged police action; further the previous affidavit did not clarify what happened between June 1 and June 3 since the DVDs and photographs, including the documents produced by Acharya Virendra Vikram, president of the Bharat Swabhiman Trust, clearly showed that yoga was being practised at the venue; the authorities must explain the situations that provoked them to stop Baba Ramdev from carrying forward his programme.

Mr. Justice Chauhan told Mr. Salve: “We are not concerned with the politics of the meeting. We want to know what was the occasion for the police to use force at night when people were sleeping.”

Mr. Justice Swatanter Kumar found fault with the police for lobbing tear gas and using water cannon in the closed compartment of the pandal to drive out the people.

He told Mr. Salve: “It is not expected that tear gas and water cannon would be used in a closed compartment when people are sleeping. You also resort to lathi charge. Is it permitted under the Police Manual? The photographs show the Commissioner of Police is talking to someone. We want to know whether use of force by police was a proper exercise.”

When Mr. Salve denied that there was lathi charge, Justice Swatanter Kumar said: “There are photographs to show otherwise.”

Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the Trust, alleged that Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram was behind the midnight crackdown on Baba Ramdev and his followers. He urged the court to issue notice to him personally to explain the incident.

Mr. Jethmalani said Baba Ramdev had taken a decision not to walk down to Jantar Mantar to protest on the issue of corruption and was staying with his followers at the Ramlila Maidan when the crackdown was launched. He alleged there was no order of externment against him.

Mr. Jethmalani read out a press statement issued by Mr. Chidambaram on June 8 which said: “The Delhi Police decided to enforce the decision to remove Baba Ramdev from Ramlila grounds…” He said Mr. Chidambaram must be called to explain when the decision was taken and why it was taken to get the area vacated. He alleged that the police action was a “murder of democracy” and asserted that that there was valid permission for yoga, fast and satyagraha.

He said there were unimpeachable documents and DVDs to show the police claim was false.

The Bench asked the Delhi Police, the Union Home Secretary and the Delhi Chief Secretary to file a response and posted the matter for further hearing on July 25.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 9:31:45 PM |

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