The Delhi High Court heard petitions on the Jamia violence that took place in the University campus on 15th December last year. Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi made submissions on behalf of the Delhi police in front of a division bench comprising Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan.
During the hearing conducted through video conferencing, senior advocate Aman Lekhi strongly defended the action of Delhi police, saying that the action taken by police was necessary and proportionate to the violence unleashed the mob during the anti-CAA protests.
Narrating the events that led to the police entering the campus of the university to flush out rioters hiding inside, he said that more than two thousand people had gathered near the gate number 1 of the university, when the area was cordoned off. He said that although the protest started peacefully, gradually it started turning violent.
The ASG told the court that leaders and politicians were provoking the protesters by making objectionable and insightful slogans. He said that such speeches can’t get the protection of freedom of speech. The mob was armed with lathis, petrol bombs etc, and the police had to take action as it had turned violent. Moreover, the congregation of protesters at the site was declared unlawful by the administration because they indulged in arson and violent, and became unmanageable. The ASG said that police took action against mob because they had started rioting, not because they were protesting against the CAA.
Advocate Lekhi said that by the actions, the protesters can’t be called students, they were a mob. He said that the mob had entered residential houses, blocked roads, burnt vehicles. Police have visuals of the mob taking out petrol from motorcycles for use in arson, and buses, cars and other vehicles were set ablaze by them. Passengers sitting in the buses had narrowly escaped being trapped in fire, he said.
The ASG said that it was not spontaneous violence, but a well-planned, as the mob entered the university campus and started heavy stone-pelting from inside on the police force. He said that a senior police officer like the Joint Commissioner of Police was present at the site and he had appealed the mob to stop violence, but they didn’t listen. Such was the gravity of the situation that even senior police officers were attacked.
Therefore, the police had to use moderate force in the form of tear gas shelling and lathi-charge to control the mob. Lekhi said that the stone-pelting went on for one and a half hours from the university campus. ‘University is a place of learning and not for violence. How there were weapons inside the campus’, the senior advocate questioned.
During the hearing, Justice Prateek Jalan intervened and asked if the force used by police was proportionate to the violence done by the mob. The court also asked whether it was as per the ethical standards of policing. To this, Aman Lekhi said that police took proportional action as he has already explained how grave the situation was. He said that it was a gathering of the criminal mob with the intent to commit crime, and the police action was appropriate for the situation. Policing is prevention and detection of crime, and that was what the police was doing, he added.
Aman Lekhi pointed out that even the NHRC report agrees with the charges made in the police chargesheet, and petitioners themselves have use the same report. He said that it was attempt to murder, culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and police had to take action accordingly.
The ASG quoted various sections of the IPC and other relevant laws to explain the charges made against the rioters. He said, I have not imagined these offences or conducted an academic exercise, these events had actually happened on that day. Police took action as a last resort as the mob didn’t listen to the call to end violence, he said.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing from the petitioners, said that he wants insection of CCTV footage given by Delhi Police, and copies all charge sheets mentioned in the hearing. To this Lekhi said that he didn’t quote from any charge sheet, and only referred to charge sheets to mention the charges. He said that no copy can be given to third parties.
After that, the court adjourned the hearing, the next date for the hearing will take place on 18th September.
Several petitions have filed at the Delhi High Court accusing police brutality at the Jamia Milia Islamia University on 15th December during anti-ACC protests. Police had entered the campus after several rioters had taken shelter there after attacking police, a charge the university students deny. The portioners are seeking an independent inquiry into the matter. The first hearing took place on 4th August.