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Loopholes in probe, FIRs wrongly clubbed — why court fined Delhi Police in Feb 2020 riots case

Delhi Police pulled up for not maintaining proper case diary. Complaints of separate offences that required two different FIRs were clubbed into one.

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New Delhi: A Delhi court came down strongly against the quality of police investigation in the 2020 Delhi riots that claimed 53 lives and led to massive destruction of property, and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on law enforcement personnel for procedural lapses in the probe.

Highlighting the loopholes in the investigation into one of the northeast Delhi cases, Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav Tuesday termed the Delhi Police’s investigation into the matter “a very shocking state of affairs”.

The police were pulled up in court for not maintaining a proper case diary, which according to the mandate of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc) should be filed in an orderly fashion in a single book, in a bound volume and properly paginated.

Instead, the court noted, investigation details such as witness statements were spread across different booklets in the case at hand.

The police had also clubbed more than one complaint in the said FIR, which the court said were essentially two complaints of separate offences that required two different FIRs.

The police had “overlooked” the mandate of a Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court, the court said, adding it was evident the police had sought to “create defence” for the accused named in the complaint on which no FIR was lodged.

Also read: Riots changed Hindu-Muslim dynamics in NE Delhi. For some, it’s ‘hateful beyond repair’ now

Clubbing FIRs, creating confusion

ASJ Yadav’s strongly-worded order came on Delhi Police’s appeal filed against a magistrate’s order of 21 October 2020, directing them to register an FIR on the complaint of a riot victim.

Mohammad Nasir, a juice vendor and resident of North Gonda in northeast Delhi, had injured an eye after he was “fired at” during the riots. In his complaint, he had named a former MLA of the area as one of his alleged assailants.

But instead of lodging an FIR on his statement, the police clubbed Nasir’s complaint with another FIR. The latter was registered in connection with a separate incident that took place about 900 metres away from the spot where Nasir was shot more than an hour earlier.

‘SHO had no reason to feel aggrieved by magistrate’s order’

“From any angle, I have not been able to persuade myself about the efficacy and fairness of the investigation carried out in the matter,” noted the judge, rejecting the appeal filed by station house officer (SHO) of Bhajanpura police station.

ASJ Yadav commented that the SHO had no reason, occasion or justification to feel aggrieved by the magistrate’s order.

Yadav upheld the magistrate’s order and observed that the persons who could presumably be aggrieved with it would be those named by Nasir, none of whom had filed a criminal revision against the magistrate’s order.

The court directed the police to register a separate FIR on Nasir’s complaint and ordered the DCP (North-East) to deposit a fine of Rs 25,000 with the Delhi Legal Services Authority within a week’s time. The amount, the court said, shall be recovered from the Bhajanpura SHO and his supervising officers, who have “miserably failed in their statutory duties”.

Attacked in North Ghonda, FIR clubbed with Mohanpur case

In his complaint to the police on 19 March 2020, Nasir had said he was attacked near his house in North Ghonda on 24 February 2020 “by a Hindu mob”.

Nasir made the complaint after he was discharged from the hospital where he was operated upon for a gunshot injury in his left eye.

On 3 July 2020, Nasir also sent an email to the DCP (North-East), seeking protection under the Delhi Witness Protection Scheme. When the police did not register an FIR, he approached the magistrate the same month.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police clubbed Nasir’s complaint with another FIR registered on 25 February 2020 in connection with an incident that took place in Mohanpur, another area in northeast Delhi but nowhere close to where Nasir was attacked.

Procedural lapses in filing case diary 

The court also highlighted the loopholes in the investigation carried out in connection in Mohanpur FIR in which the police arrested two Muslims for causing “damage to the life and property of Hindus”.

Not even a single Hindu victim or injured person was mentioned in the case diary.

The court also noted that the police had prepared the charge sheet without recording Nasir’s statement. The police acted upon Nasir’s complaints and recorded his statement only after he approached the magistrate.

Nasir had also told the police that he was being constantly threatened by the accused but the police did not follow it up, it was alleged.

(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)

Also read: Anger at Amarinder’s ‘broken oath’ of 2015 still felt in epicentre of sacrilege row Faridkot


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