Dissent

Kanhaiya Kumar Moves Supreme Court for Bail Hearing Tomorrow

Kanhaiya Kumar was attacked by lawyers while being escorted into court. Credit: NDTV screengrab

Kanhaiya Kumar was attacked by lawyers while being escorted into court. Credit: NDTV screengrab

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear on Friday a writ petition seeking bail for JNU Student’s Union leader Kanhaiya Kumar, arrested on charges of sedition, taking into consideration the law and order situation at the Patiala House court over the last few days when he was produced for remand.

Brushing aside the objections of procedural violation in the petitioner directly seeking bail in the apex court (instead of in the sessions court), a bench of Justices J Chelameswar and AM Sapre, after hearing senior counsel Raju Ramachadnran, posted the petition for hearing at 10.30 am on Friday along with another petition filed by a lawyer who alleged that his complaint was not registered by the police.

Earlier, senior advocate RP Luthra took exception to Kumar seeking bail directly in the apex court through a writ petition and told the bench that it is against procedural law and it should not behave like a magistrate’s court. “I am yet to see a procedure by which this court can hear such a petition,” Luthra said.

In response, Justice Chelameswar said, “If a citizen comes to this court saying that his fundamental rights are under threat, we have to hear him. Something extraordinary is going on in this country. No doubt about it. We will certainly examine this issue”

Luthra went on to say, “In Malda, people were raped and looted. Nobody brought it here. Recently the Delhi high court was locked for 15 days by lawyers who were on strike. This was not alarming to them.”

To this Justice Chelameswar observed, “Alarming or not. This court will hear this petition. Everybody should remember that administration of justice should be fair. Ultimately we have to exercise our jurisdiction in one way or the other.”

Earlier, a panel comprising senior lawyers Kapil Sibal, Rajeev Dhavan, Harin Raval, Dushyant Dave and ADN Rao had submitted in a sealed cover a report on yesterday’s incident at Patiala House. The panel was represented by former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee. Video recordings of the incident and transcripts have also been enclosed with the report. When Dhavan urged the report to be made public, the bench said it would go through the report and take a call on releasing it Friday.

Senior counsel Ajit Sinha, representing the Delhi Police and who was also part of the investigating team, said he did not sign the report as he had not read it. Counsel Vrinda Grover, appearing for Kumar, also submitted a separate report in a sealed cover on what happened at the trial court when the accused was produced for remand.  Senior counsel Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the registrar general of the Delhi high court, also presented a report in a sealed cover.

Taking on record the reports, the bench asked the Delhi Police to give its report on the incidents by 10.30 am on Friday. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who also represented the police, said the report would be given in court on Friday. Chairman of the Bar Council Manan Kumar Misra submitted that the assault on journalists by lawyers was a very serious issue and the bar council would take stringent disciplinary action against the erring lawyers. He said “we have taken note of the incidents with regard to the attack by lawyers and we will submit our report to the court on February 22.”

Kumar’s writ petition

In his writ petition, Kumar said he is innocent and his presumption of innocence is sacrosanct. However, the mob at the court complex was ready to lynch him as if he is guilty, which erodes a citizen’s faith in the justice delivery mechanism established under the laws by the Constitution. He sought bail and release from custody based on the exceptional and unprecedented breakdown of the justice delivery mechanism and administration of justice even after the apex court passed an order on Wednesday morning. He also said that it was evident that there is a threat to life and person, as well as to his lawyers and those who would be required to stand as surety/sureties on his behalf, if he were to appear before the Patiala House court.

He said when he was produced at Patiala House on February 15 and 17, incidents of violence took place at the court premises, carried out by members of the legal fraternity, in which journalists, students and senior faculty members of JNU were physically assaulted. The Delhi Police failed to adequately protect him at the time of his production for remand proceedings, and he was violently assaulted by the gathered crowd of lawyers and by one person inside the courtroom.

He said the atmosphere of violence and intimidation continued unabated, and that the visiting team was also attacked by a group of lawyers and other persons while returning to the Supreme Court.

He said the failure on the part of the authorities in their peremptory and most sacrosanct duty to carry out the orders of the apex court was a clear violation of his fundamental rights. The Patiala House incident was an affront to his fundamental and human right of access to justice. It was also clearly a violation of the fundamental rights of lawyers to represent their client. He was approaching the Supreme Court since the security granted by it in its order was limited to court room no. 4 of Patiala House, and given the prevailing situation outside the courtroom, the lawyers representing him were in no position to move the sessions court for his bail. His lawyers remained under siege till 7 pm on that day, as Delhi Police was not able to provide security to them to exit safely and kept saying that they are waiting for “enough force” before they could provide a safe exit.