Set Up An SIT, CoI Or Fact Finding Committee To Look Into Jamia Violence Over CAA Protests: HC Urged
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday was urged to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) or a fact finding committee or a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to look into the violence that took place in Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University in December last year in relation to the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
The pleas for an SIT or a committee or a CoI was made before a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan during the nearly five hour long hearing of several petitions alleging that ruthless and excessive use of force and aggression was unleashed by the police and paramilitary forces on students within the university.
The petitions have sought action against the police officials involved in the incidents of violence in the varsity on December 13 and 15 last year.
Appearing for one of the petitioners, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, argued before the bench that there was need for an SIT which was independent of the police and the central government who by their conduct have shown that their investigation into the violence was "not independent".
He, during the hearing via video conference, showed the court videos of the incidents of violence and claimed that the same indicated the "vengeance with which the police stalked the students" inside the campus and "brutally" assaulted them in toilets and libraries inside the varsity.
Gonsalves also claimed that "abusive" language was used against the students and added that the incident was "not a riot", but "a police assault with strong communal overtones".
Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, who represented another set of petitioners, argued for a fact finding committee saying the same was suggested by the Supreme Court and setting up such a body would "be the best way to soothe or put balm on the wounds of the students".
He said that such a move would also "reassure the public" and would restore the people's faith in the system.
He said that the first incident of violence occurred on December 13, 2019 when the students were marching to Parliament in protest against the CAA.
Khurshid said that holding marches was permitted in our democracy and was part of the "democratic ethos".
He also suggested specially training and sensitising the police force with regard to dealing with students or university crowds or creating a campus police to maintain discipline in the varsity.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, who also appeared for one of the petitioners, urged the bench to direct setting up a CoI to look into the incidents of violence as fundamental rights and human rights of the students were allegedly violated by the police force.
She contended that before entering the campus, the police ought to have sought permission of the varsity since the university is an autonomous body.
She further said that the police chased after the students who fled back to the campus for safety after being stopped at Mathura road here when they were marching to the Parliament as a protest against the CAA.
Jaising alleged that the conduct of the police indicated "sheer madness and vindictiveness" as there was "excessive, unreasonable and arbitrary use of power" by the agency when it entered the varsity.
She said that just like FIRs have been lodged against protesting students who engaged in throwing stones and bottles at the police, FIRs ought to be lodged against those police personnel who engaged in excessive use of force.
She said the police personnel were suitably equipped with tear gas, shields and other riot gear to withstand the stones and bottles thrown by the agitating students and there was no need for it to enter the campus without permission, "assault" students in libraries and toilets and engage in "vandalism".
The arguments by the other counsel for the various petitioners and on behalf of the police and the central government would continue on Wednesday.
On June 6, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing Delhi Police, had taken strong exception to the language used in certain paragraphs of the rejoinder filed by one of the petitioners in the matter and said "you cannot malign constitutional authorities like this" and they are "more of a political statement made at a protest site".
Mehta had contended that "irresponsible" pleadings have been filed in the rejoinder of one of the petitioners Nabila Hasan who has sought action against the police for allegedly brutally attacking the petitioners, students and residents of JMI.
Gonsalves, who was also representing Hasan, had submitted that he will delete the particular lines and file the rejoinder again.
Opposing the batch of PILs, moved by lawyers, students of JMI, residents of Okhla in south Delhi, where university is located, and the Imam of Jama Masjid mosque opposite Parliament House, the police have said the claim of police brutality is utter falsehood.
Besides setting up a SIT, CoI or a fact finding committee, the petitions have also sought medical treatment, compensation and interim protection from arrest for the students.
The pleas have also sought registration of FIRs against the erring police officers.