8 Sep 2021 12:39 PM GMT
Student Activist Asif Iqbal Tanha told the Delhi High Court on Wednesday that the Delhi Police, being the custodian of law and the case property in the matter, has failed in performing their public duty as it was not being able to give a satisfactory answer in connection with the leakage of his alleged confessional statement to the media in the Delhi Riots case. Advocate Siddharth...
Student Activist Asif Iqbal Tanha told the Delhi High Court on Wednesday that the Delhi Police, being the custodian of law and the case property in the matter, has failed in performing their public duty as it was not being able to give a satisfactory answer in connection with the leakage of his alleged confessional statement to the media in the Delhi Riots case.
Advocate Siddharth Aggarwal appearing for Tanha also told Justice Mukta Gupta that since the Delhi Police could not conclusively establish how the leakage happened, they cannot be trusted to investigate their own affairs.
"Sensitive information during course of investigation has been leaked to people who were not supposed to have it. It has been leaked to my prejudice. Most importantly, they have not able to assess what happened and have not been able to take action," Aggarwal submitted.
"I don't have to show my locus or that it was my data. They were earlier aggrieved by it and now if they are not aggrieved by it, it's a different view coming. They cannot be trusted now to do an investigation into their own affairs," he added.
During the course of hearing today, Aggarwal took the Court through various timelines starting from the date of alleged leakage of his client's congressional statement. He submitted that on August 18, 2020 while Tanha's bail petition was pending before a special judge, news channels on "prime time news" read out extracts from his alleged confessional and disclosure statements.
"These news channels prime time news read out from confessional and disclosure statements attributed to me saying very clearly that we have it, the papers are shown in TV. saying very clearly that we have it, the papers are shown in TV, to show as to how accused persons have confessed to guilt. The only person or agency who had the responsibility to take care of this material was the investigating agency. On August 19, I make a representation to DCP, nothing is done," Aggarwal submitted.
"We would have to put blinkers on not to recognize what Delhi Police and associated agencies had leaked," he added.
Relying on the inquiry conducted by the Police in the matter regarding the leak, Aggarwal submitted that the police said they do not know how it had happened.
Last month, the Delhi Police had informed the Court that during enquiry, the Enquiry Officer could not establish the officers or office from where the investigation details were allegedly shared with media.
"They are saying media outlets are publishing, I can't do anything about it. So when it comes to my enquiry as Delhi police, I'm saying I've done my bit, please be satisfied with the eye wash and please live with the fact that we won't do it in future. As if the past wasn't future of anything. The third thing, which is reflective of how seriously Delhi police takes this court, when supplementary chargesheet was filed, there was another leak," he submitted.
Stating that the alleged leakage has prejudiced Tanha in the case, Aggarwal argued that every person who came in contact with the documents or details was a public official, whether belonging to the Delhi Police, Court staff or governmental department.
"I'm not saying it's my property and I need not. I cannot be restricted from espousing a grievance when the property being stolen has ramifications, prejudice, impact on me," Aggarwal argued.
"To say today, that there is no concept of theft of information, to say that I don't know how it's gone there and that it's not property within IPC, is in my humble submission, wrong," he submitted at the outset.
"This is no longer a tendency to play these games outside courtroom. It's now their right to ensure that a hype is made against the accused and he has to suffer."
Further, hinting on the need of having an investigation conducted from an independent body, Aggarwal submitted that if an inquiry is not yielding the results, then it is only important to go to the next step, which is investigation.
"Question of whether it's necessary in the instant case for this Court to direct an investigation, I'm only repeating my submissions that where the Court has allowed inquiries to happen, when people who are to be investigated are the ones who are investigating, there is a mandate of entrusting that investigation to an independent format whether it's within the same agency or outside," he argued.
However, Aggarwal made it clear that with regards to the prayer of registration of FIR or having an investigation conducted in the matter, private parties (media houses in the case) are not relevant and can be kept out of the same.
"We can put all the guidelines which talks about police officers not doing it, but what guidelines can be made where police officers are not in front? I want them to feel the same sense of outrage that I am feeling right now. That is what the Court must also expect. Delhi Police is a free and fair agency. They are saying they have not done it. In that case, it's their bounden duty to ensure that whosoever has done it is dealt with as strongly as I have been dealt with for not doing anything," Aggarwal submitted.
The matter will now be heard on October 1 when ASG Aman Lekhi will commence his submissions.
Earlier, the Court had expressed its displeasure with the evasive stand taken by the Delhi police in responding to the grievance raised by Tanha.
Standing Counsel for Delhi Police, Amit Mahajan had refuted the claim that the leakage was done by the police and said that responsibility for the allegations cannot be affixed on them.
The Court had also come down heavily on the Vigilance Branch of Delhi Police for its failure to identify the source of leakage and said "This vigilance enquiry is even worse than what they do in a petty theft case."
Tanha had filed the petition being aggrieved by various news reports appearing in electronic media reporting that he had allegedly confessed to organizing and inciting communal riots that occurred in North-East Delhi.
Therefore, the instant plea was filed seeking a direction for media houses and social-media to take down sensitive information (allegedly leaked by police to media channels) connected to the investigation in his case. It was also argued before the High Court that the leak was aimed to vilify and prejudice his right to a fair trial.