Navreet Singh Death: Delhi HC Issues Notices to Police, Others, Seeks Status on Probe

The family of the deceased farmer had moved the court seeking a special investigating team to probe into his death.

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Thursday issued notices to Delhi police; Delhi government; and the chief medical officer of the district hospital, Rampur, Uttar Pradesh in connection with the petition filed by a family member of Navreet Singh, a 25-year-old farmer who died during the Republic Day tractor rally. 

Singh’s grandfather, Hardeep Singh Dibdiba, had moved the Delhi high court on Wednesday seeking a court-monitored special investigating team (SIT) to probe into his death. His family has been maintaining that Navreet’s death was caused by a bullet injury.

A single-judge bench of Justice Yogesh Khanna, which is looking into the matter, on Thursday called for a detailed status report and directed the preservation of CCTV footage and other documentary and electronic evidence. He also directed that an advance copy of the status report be provided to the petitioner. 

Also read: Navreet Singh’s Family Moves Delhi HC, Seeks Court-Monitored SIT Probe Into Death

The Delhi police has been maintaining that Singh had died after his tractor overturned during the rally. It lodged a first information report (FIR) against MP Shashi Tharoor and senior journalists, including Rajdeep Sardesai for tweeting on the farmer’s death, which the police claimed was a misleading tweet.

Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the petitioner Dibdiba, stated that the conspectus of eyewitness testimony and medical opinion make it clear that Singh was shot by policemen, and the Delhi police had failed to conduct any enquiry or investigation before making a hasty proclamation that the death was caused by accident. 

She submitted that there were eyewitnesses who asserted that there were gunshots, and even medical experts had opined that the “lacerated wounds” on the deceased’s body were consistent with the claim of a bullet injury. 

Deceased farmer Navreet Singh.

Earlier, a senior doctor at the All India Institute of Medical Services (AIIMS) had told The Wire that laceration wounds can be associated with bullet injuries. The report, published on 30 January, became the reason for an FIR against The Wire’s editor Siddharth Varadarajan and reporter Ismat Ara.

Grover contended that the Delhi police had failed to conduct any investigation before making a hasty proclamation that the death was caused by accident.

“I have lost my grandson. I have a right to know how he died. I am seeking a fair, independent and time-bound investigation,” Grover had submitted for the petitioner.

Also read: Amid Anger Against BJP, Priyanka Gandhi Visits Deceased Farmer’s Family in Rampur

The plea alleged that at around 4:30 pm on January 26, about 20 policemen in riot gear stormed into the CCTV room of Andhra Education Society, removed the digital video recorder (DVR) from the CCTV storage and took it in their custody. When asked to disclose their identity, the policemen did not provide any details except that they had come from IP Estate police station.

The petitioner also claimed that the entire incident on January 26 was captured on multiple CCTV cameras including those installed by the Andhra Education Society near ITO in New Delhi.

The protesting farmers and eyewitnesses, who claimed that Navreet Singh was shot by policemen, demanded to see the CCTV footage from the Andhra Education Society. However, the Delhi police cited technical difficulties and did not facilitate the viewing of the CCTV footage, the petition read.

It averred that without conducting any inquest under Section 174 Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and even before a post mortem was carried out, the Delhi police declared that the young farmer had died due to an accident and not because of any firing by policemen.

“To bolster their claim, a video was also released by Delhi police of the tractor overturning, which in no way is sufficient to rule out that Navreet Singh was shot while he was driving the tractor, as stated by eyewitnesses. This hasty, unverified and unsubstantiated claim by Delhi police without conducting any enquiry or investigation, casts a dark shadow on its own fairness and integrity”, the plea asserted.

Standing counsel Rahul Mehra stated that CCTV footage had been seized and examined. He informed the court that an FIR had also been registered by Delhi police. He also said that the state will share all relevant documents and electronic evidence with the family of the deceased farmer. 

Mehra added that there was no difficulty in sharing the documents that were in possession of the Delhi police and that if CCTV footage was yet to be preserved, steps would be taken to do so. He sought time from the court to file a status report in the matter. 

The case is now listed for hearing on February 26.