New Delhi: The tussle between the Delhi Police and the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government over the Northeast district riots cases and the counsel representing them in the high court refuses to scale down.
In a fresh development, the Delhi Police has shot off a letter to the government’s standing counsel in the Delhi High Court, Rahul Mehra, complaining his office did not inform police officials in time about fresh bail applications filed last month in connection with the riots cases.
Written on 1 September by Joy Tirkey, deputy commissioner of police (DCP), Crime branch, the letter cites four instances when Additional Public Prosecutor (APP) Amit Chadha — who is part of the criminal panel led by Mehra — accepted notices on behalf of the police but did not apprise the department about it. ThePrint has accessed a copy of the letter.
On account of non-communication, there was nobody to represent Delhi Police before the court, resulting in imposition of costs on them in three cases and grant of bail to an accused in one, the letter noted.
The police have a special panel of prosecutors to argue on their behalf in the riots cases, and no Delhi government counsel can appear for them, instead. The constitution of the panel had caused friction in July, with the Kejriwal government objecting to the lawyers chosen by the Delhi Police on the grounds that it would hamper a “free and fair trial”.
This trust deficit has now driven the police to post their officers on a daily basis to attend proceedings at all courts hearing bail applications to ensure the department receives first-hand information about any riots case listed as well as heard, police sources told ThePrint.
Tirkey asked Mehra to conduct an enquiry into the “serious lapses” he mentioned in the letter and take corrective measures to prevent such incidents in future.
ThePrint reached Rahul Mehra for a comment through a WhatsApp message but did not receive a response until the time of publishing this report
The Delhi Police is represented by a panel, including additional solicitors general Aman Lekhi and S.V. Raju, who are arguing on behalf of the department in 85 cases related to the Northeast Delhi riots and the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests in the high court and the Supreme Court.
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Delhi Police ‘offences’
The Delhi Police was asked to deposit a fee of Rs 25,000 each in three cases for not filing status report.
The first two instances pointed out in Tirkey’s letter were with regard to two bail applications filed by Yogesh, who faces murder charges. While the first application was listed on 6 August, the second was heard a day later.
The court issued notices in both cases and asked the police to file a status report within four days. Chadha, according to the letter, accepted both. The cases then came up for hearing together on 17 August.
However, since Chadha did not communicate the order to the department, nobody appeared for the police at the next date of hearing, the letter stated. The court then gave the police another opportunity to file a status report, but also directed the department to deposit Rs 25,000 for each case in favour of the Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee.
When the two matters next came up for hearing on 31 August, the bench dismissed one application of Yogesh’s but kept the other pending based on arguments made by a special public prosecutor appearing for the police.
In the third instance cited in Tirkey’s letter, a similar order was passed on the bail application filed by Mohammad Shahid, an accused in a riots case, on medical grounds.
This case was first heard on 7 August and then posted to 17 August, at which time a representative of the Delhi Police failed to appear. The matter was again taken up on 20 August, after the Delhi Police deposited Rs 25,000, and was represented by a panel of lawyers led by additional solicitor general S.V. Raju. On 28 August, the bail application was dismissed.
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Accused reaping benefit of non-communication
The fourth case referred to in the letter related to the grant of bail to accused Mohammad llyas, who, according to Tirkey’s assertion, “reaped” the benefit of the non-communication between the department and its counsel.
According to the letter, Ilyas’s petition came up for hearing for the first time on 10 August. The notice was accepted by Chadha on the same day, following which the court directed the police to file a status report.
When the case was next heard on 25 August, there was nobody standing in for the police. The letter said Chadha submitted to the court that the concerned deputed officer in court, an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) of police, had intimated the officials of Dayal Pur police station, asking the station house officer (SHO) to appear.
Noting that despite having information about the case, no counsel had appeared, the court released Ilyas on bail.
However, on an enquiry, the ASI disputed Chadha, the letter said. The ASI told his seniors that Chadha had not informed him about the case on the day when notice was issued but called him on 25 August to find who would be appearing for Delhi Police. At this, the ASI told Chadha that the case was being handled by the Crime Branch and not the local police.
“It is apparent from the above, that these incidents of non-communication of High Court orders to the Investigating Agency have been following a pattern, and the benefit of the non-communication has been richly reaped by the accused persons. Thus, the prosecution has suffered a setback,” read the letter.
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