Thursday, February 18, 2016

Delhi Police "indifference": Commonwealth advocacy group seeks urgent Apex Court, Govt of India intervention

By Our Representative
Prominent advocacy group, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), has sought Supreme Court for “immediate” and “resolute” action against the Delhi Police for the recent assault on “students, teachers, mediapersons, opposition party workers, and eminent lawyers appointed by the Supreme Court to report on the situation in the Patiala House Court complex in Delhi.”
The statement by the top civil rights group comes just a day ahead of the scheduled hearing of the bail application of Kumar the Supreme Court. Accredited with the Commonwealth, CHRI has its offices in New Delhi, London and Accra, and enjoys special consultative status at the Economic and Social Council of the UN.
Especially taking exception to the assault on Kanhaiya Kumar, Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president, who has been accused of sedition, the CHRI statement says, even judges were “heckled and intimidated into being forced to lock themselves in their courtrooms to conduct their proceedings peacefully.”
Calling it as the failure of the Delhi Police “to uphold their obligation to ensure safety for all”, it wants the Apex Court and the Government of India to take “all steps” to ensure that Kumar is safe during judicial remand at Tihar prison”, with his legal team being “assured access to justice and protected from any further attacks.”
“The due process of law guarantees every person the right to be produced physically and safely before the court. To thwart this is an unacceptable defiance of the Constitution”, the CHRI says, adding “Despite their presence in large numbers the police chose to be inactive and unable to prevent the violence.” 

Citizen safety at risk

“Not a single perpetrator was arrested on the spot. Specific orders had to be passed to the police before they committed to protect the court premises. This speaks volumes about the extent to which citizen safety from street violence has broken down”, CHRI underlines.
Calling it “more than a routine breakdown of law and order”, CHRI says, “It is nothing less than a barefaced assault on all the principles and values that our country is built upon. It amounts to an obstruction of justice and contempt for the Supreme Court’s pronouncements and the guilty must be brought to book.”
“The brazen resort to violence by the mob, which had active participation from lawyers and a politician is worthy of stringent penal action and must, as well attract strong condemnation and prompt disciplinary measures”, it insists.
Wajahat Habibullah, who is former chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities and former Central Information Commissioner, and currently chairperson of CHRI (India), has called the incident “a frontal assault on the rule of law and mainstay of our democratic structure”, adding, “The Delhi Police having failed to uphold that rule in the court premises now owes it to India's citizens that those who were responsible are brought to account."
Justice Ajit Shah, former chairman, Law Commission of India, and CHRI Executive Committee member, has called the events in the Patiala House courts as “extremely distressing”, pointing out that the young student leader was “not only not allowed to be properly represented or properly heard in the court, but was also manhandled.”
“This incident has raised many apprehensions about the respect for the rule. The role of the police in this incident is also questionable. The judicial machinery must step up and not allow such vigilante actions, especially in its courtrooms", Shah notes.
Insisting on fair trial, Maja Daruwala, director, CHRI, “The citizen cannot be left at the mercy of the mob. The fact that the strongest judicial oversight is now necessary is an indictment of the police and clear demonstration of its failure to protect and the selectivity of its approach. It is an indictment of the Bar Council which has failed to restrain its members from violating the basic tenets of their profession”.

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