New Delhi: Days after a senior official’s order purportedly telling police teams to exercise restraint while arresting Hindus who are accused in the Northeast Delhi riots came to light, the high court on Monday directed the Delhi police to file a copy of the directive.
A recent Indian Express report had drawn attention to a controversial July 8 order by the special commissioner of police (crime and economic offence wing) Praveen Ranjan. Ranjan, in the order, states that the arrest of “some Hindu youth” from the riot-affected areas in northeast Delhi had led to a “degree of resentment among the Hindu community” and had issued instructions to the probe teams to take “due care and precaution” while making arrests. Addressed to senior cops who are heading probe teams, the order asked them to “suitably” guide the investigating officers.
The order, which led many activists to allege that the police probe into the riots has been prejudiced against the minority community, was subsequently challenged in the high court by two victims of the riots: Sahil Parvez, whose father was shot dead, and Mohammad Saeed Salmani, whose mother was lynched inside her house.
As the order gained prominence for its alleged selectiveness, the Delhi Police’s PRO Mandeep S. Randhawa responded saying that the letter was written only to inform the investigating officers about the representations being received from both the communities and to “sensitise and guide” them through the investigation of these cases.
However, the Indian Express contended that “there was no such mention” in the special CP’s order, which specifically highlighted ‘resentment among Hindu community’ over arrests of ‘some Hindu youth’.
The two petitioners, through their counsel Mehmood Pracha, sought that the July 8 order should be immediately quashed. “…issuance of such orders, and the general manner in which the police are investigating the murders of the family members of the petitioners, is not only in direct violation of the basic principles of criminal law, but also frustrates the process of the criminal justice system,” their plea stated.
“Under the influence of such illegal orders, the investigating officers have refrained from taking full and free action as per law against several individuals, not only in the cases which pertain to the petitioners, but also other cases relating to the carnage that had rendered Northeast Delhi a warzone for several days in February 2020,” the plea claimed.
The court, however, orally observed that no action can be taken based on a news report, and asked the petitioners why they didn’t access a copy of the order through right to information. Justice Suresh Kumar Kait eventually asked the Delhi police to file a copy of the order in the court.
“The counsel representing Delhi Police seeks time to place on record July 8 order. Let needful be done within two days with an advance copy to the other side,” Justice Kait said, according to the Indian Express.
Pracha, while arguing the plea through video conferencing, sought directions to the police to produce the July 8 order and other such orders which he claimed amounted to “unlawful and illegal interference in the performance of investigative functions by police officers”.
Earlier this month, a group of eminent citizens had written to President Ram Nath Kovind, accusing the Delhi police of not conducting a fair probe into the violence that claimed 53 lives in February this year. They claimed that the police had ignored complaints against BJP leaders and that the police were complicit in some instances of violence.
They demanded President Kovind to constitute a Commission of Inquiry “to ensure that justice is done and those who instigated and caused the violence are prosecuted”.