New Delhi: Taking up the matter of providing relief to riot victims 12 hours after issuing an emergency order at 1:42 am on Wednesday, the Delhi high court in the afternoon said ‘another 1984 scenario’ cannot be allowed to happen, directing the Centre and state governments personally meet the families and victims of those injured or killed in the national capital since Sunday evening.
According to LiveLaw, the bench of Justices Muralidhar and A.J. Bhambhani, said, “This is time to reach out and do confidence by building. We can’t let another 1984 scenario happen in this city; not under the watch of this court.”
When the court was informed that more than 100 people have left their homes and “cannot come back immediately”, Justice Muralidhar said, “Every victim must be visited by the highest state functionary. Those families which has lost members must be assured.”
The court also took note of injuries sustained by police officers in the riots, with a man working with the IB found dead in Chandbagh on Wednesday. “These things should be immediately looked into,” Justice Muralidhar added.
To ensure that urgent applications for immediate assistance are heard, the court said night magistrates should be present at designated courts for two weeks.
The high court also asked authorities to ensure security during the funerary activities of the deceased.
The high court appointed advocate Zubeda Begum as the amicus curiae in the case to “coordinate with the victims and ensure effective implementation of this court’s orders”. The Ministry of Home Affairs was directed to provide her necessary assistance.
Justice Muralidhar directed the Delhi government to ensure that there are sufficient shelter homes for the rehabilitation of displaced victims. “They shall be provided with adequate amenities, blankets, clean water and sanitation,” the Delhi high court said, according to LiveLaw.
The court ordered the offices of District Legal Services Authorities set up round the clock help desks to “cater to the immediate needs of victims”.
The court has also asked the head of the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences to ensure psychologists and experts are made available to extend counselling to those affected by the violence.#DelhiViolence @TheQuint
— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) February 26, 2020
The court commended the Delhi police for providing emergency relief in Mustafabad after receiving orders from the bench to provide safe passage to injured persons, directing them to continue to respond with the same efficiency.
‘This shows that a lot can happen when the authorities are willing to take action. It’s an actual demonstration of how police officers are waiting for the orders to act’ – Justice Muralidhar#DelhiRiots2020 #DelhiViolence
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) February 26, 2020
The matter was adjourned to February 28.
Emergency midnight hearing
Earlier, in an urgent sitting that ended at 1:42 am on Wednesday, the high court had directed the Delhi Police to immediately escort some 20 persons injured in the ongoing riots in Mustafabad, North East Delhi to Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital for treatment.
The bench, comprising Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice A.J. Bhambhani, convened at the residence of Justice Muralidhar. The court’s order explained the circumstances of the unusual sitting:
“This is a special sitting convened at 12:30 am (26.2.2020) at the residence of of one of us (S. Muralidhar, J) under the orders of the senior most judge, Justice G.S. Sistani, as the Chief Justice is not in Dlhi at the present moment. One of us (S. Muralidhar, J) received a call from an advocate, Suroor Mander, “explaining the dire circumstances under which certain grievously wounded victims of the riots taking place in the North Eastern District of Delhi were unable to be moved from the Al Hind Hospital in New Mustafabad, a fairly small hospital which lacks the facilities for treating seriously wounded persons, for treatment at the GTB Hospital in Dilshad Gardens. She prayed for urgent orders for safe passage of the ambulances, both to the Al Hind Hospital and from the said hospital for the injured victims”.
Earlier in the evening, the hospital authorities had turned to social media to highlight their predicament after they failed to secure the support of the police for the injured patients.
At the hearing, the two judges as well as Delhi Police counsel Sanjay Ghose and two senior police officers were able to speak to Dr Anwar at the Al Hind hospital on speaker phone.
“Dr Anwar explained that there were two dead persons and around 22 injured persons at the Al Hind Hospital and that he had been trying to seek police help since around 4 pm today without success,” the court noted in its order.
In the presence of the court, one of the senior police officials at the hearing – deputy commissioner of police (Crime) Rajesh Deo – then spoke to DCP (East) Deepak Gupta and instructed him to reach the hospital immediately.
“The court at this stage is primarily concerned with ensuring the safety of the lives of the injured an immediate medical attention that they require and for that purpose to ensure the safe passage of the injured victims to the nearest available government hospitals,” the order noted. “The court accordingly directs the Delhi Police to ensure such safe passage by deploying all the resources at its command and on the strength of this order and to ensure that apart from the safe passage, the injured victims receive immediate emergency treatment, if not at the GTB Hospital, then at the LNJP Hospital or Maulana Azad or any other government hospital.”
Justice Muralidhar also mentioned that even while his formal order was being dictated, “DCP (East) managed to reach the Al Hind Hospital and confirmed … that the police was in the process of evacuating the injured to the nearest hospitals”.
The late night order says that the police must place a status report of compliance “including information about the injured victims and the treatment offered to them” before the court at 2:15 pm and also immediately bring the matter “to the attention of the Commissioner of Police”.
Justice Muralidhar is the third-most senior judge in the Delhi high court but will soon be shifted to the Punjab and Haryana high court in a transfer order that has the high court bar up in arms.
After the order, one of the doctors who had tried unsuccessfully to evacuate the patients, Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti of the Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum, took to Twitter to underscore the irony that in a democracy “we need [the] court’s intervention to provide medical aid.”
After high court judge’s intervention, doctors of Al Hind Hospital was informed that DCP Police will escort ambulances & assure safe exit of injured people. 5 patient already evacuated, This is shameful for our democracy that we need court’s intervention to provide medical aid
— Harjit Singh Bhatti (@DrHarjitBhatti) February 25, 2020
Read the full text of the court order below.