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"Sorry State Of Affairs, Lackadaisical": 10 Times When Courts Slammed Delhi Police Over Riots Probe In 2021

Nupur Thapliyal
31 Dec 2021 7:22 AM GMT
Sorry State Of Affairs, Lackadaisical: 10 Times When Courts Slammed Delhi Police Over Riots Probe In 2021
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A total of 758 cases have been registered by the Delhi Police over Delhi Riots that rocked the national capital last year. However, the quality of probe into the same has been questioned by the city Courts on varied aspects.The riots cases pending adjudication in Karkardooma Courts are being investigated by three agencies, namely North East district police (695 cases), Crime branch...

A total of 758 cases have been registered by the Delhi Police over Delhi Riots that rocked the national capital last year. However, the quality of probe into the same has been questioned by the city Courts on varied aspects.

The riots cases pending adjudication in Karkardooma Courts are being investigated by three agencies, namely North East district police (695 cases), Crime branch (62 cases) and Special Cell (1).

In a status report submitted by the Delhi Police in the High Court, it was revealed that apart from the cases probed by the North East district police, the ones undertaken by the Crime Branch pertained to major incidents like murder. Investigation into the same was carried out by employing three dedicated Special Investigating Teams (SITs); being continuously monitored by superior officers. On the other hand, the single case probed by the Delhi Police Special Cell was that of the larger conspiracy into the riots.

Even though such an expanded investigation was carried out by three investigating agencies under continuous monitoring, the status report revealed that only 361 chargesheets were filed as against 758 cases, as on October 7, 2021.

Furthermore, while 361 chargesheets have been filed so far, charges are framed only in 67 cases; meaning charges are yet to be framed in 287 cases. There has been only one conviction so far in riots cases. One case ended in acquittal.

One Suresh alias Bhatura was acquitted of all charges levelled against him, including rioting, dacoity and being a part of an unlawful assembly that attacked and looted a shop during the riots. While acquitting him, Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat was of the view that there was no testimony worth its salt to connect Suresh to the offences in question. "…. it is well apparent that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove its case, forget about beyond reasonable doubts," the Judge had said.

On the other hand, Dinesh Yadav was convicted for being an active member of the riotous mob that vandalized and put on fire the house of the complainant in the matter. "The fact that the accused also belongs to Hindu community and was present in the mob armed with an wooden rod which mob resorted to violence against the Muslims, indicates that he shared the common object of the unlawful assembly. The mere fact that he was not seen entering complainant's house or vandalizing or looting or putting it on fire, does not mean that he was mere a bystander," Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat had said.

The meagre percentage of cases leading to framing of charges/ discharge raises a big question regarding the efficiency of probing agencies. The Courts, while dealing with the trials, have questioned the conduct of the Delhi Police on a variety of aspects, including: (i) delay in conducting investigation, (ii) seeking frequent adjournments owing to non-availability of Investigating Officers, (iii) lack of performance of supervisory duties, and (iv) failure to comply with judicial orders.

"Lackadaisical", "sorry state of affairs", "highly callous" is how the Courts dubbed the nature of investigations carried out by the agencies qua the Riots cases.

The aforesaid discussion compels one to think, why were the Courts critical of the police probe? What went wrong? Where exactly is the Delhi Police failing in performance of its duties? Here is an attempt to unearth the reasons.

Delay In Investigation

1. "Failure Of Police Officers To Take Appropriate Measures For Prosecution Of Delhi Riots Cases Causing Delay In Trials": Court Pulls Up Delhi Police

A local Court had pulled up the Delhi Police for failure of its police officers to take appropriate measures for the prosecution of Delhi riots cases, thereby causing avoidable delay in committal or trials of the cases.

"Such lackadisical approach on the part of the prosecution as well as the Investigating Agency in riots cases has been repeatedly brought to the notice of not only the DCP North East and Joint CP Eastern Range but has also been brought to the notice of the Commissioner of Police, Delhi. However, no steps for proper prosecution of the cases seem to have been taken by either of them and if taken, have not yet been brought to the notice of this Court," Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg observed.

"The aforesaid failure on the part of said police officers to take appropriate measures for prosecution of riots cases is causing avoidable delay in committal/trial of riots cases," the Court said while directing the Commissioner of Police, Delhi to personally look into the issues pointed out by the Court and also to ensure that the prosecution of riots cases is done effectively.

The same Judge later also cautioned the Deputy Commissioner of Police (North East Delhi) and Commissioner of Police that it will hold them personally responsible for imposition of cost in case the investigating officers seek adjournment for compliance of the orders passed by the Court in a riots case.

2. "Sorry State Of Affairs": Court Expresses Displeasure At Delhi Police Over No Progress In Investigating A Riots Case

Terming it as a 'sorry state of affairs', a Delhi Court had expressed its displeasure at the Delhi Police over no progress in investigating a riots case and non interrogation of persons named in FIR 134/2020 registered at Gokulpuri Police Station.

"This is really a sorry state of affairs. It is being claimed by the police in other cases of riots that the circumstances prevailing during the period of riots and almost four weeks thereafter were really difficult and the police could not investigate the cases properly. Thereafter, Delhi was engulfed in Corona virus pandemic and as such, the quality investigation in the matter could not take place," Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav had said.

The Court was of the view that despite the constitution of a "Special Investigation Cell (SIC)" by Delhi Police Commissioner in order to monitor the ongoing investigations in the riots cases, the present case "had so far not got the attention of either Worthy Commissioner of Police, Delhi Police or the SIC constituted by him."

Similarly, Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat had expressed concern over the delay in disposal of cases concerning the North East Delhi riots, due to non-appearance of Special Public Prosecutors. The DCP concerned was directed to take the issue 'seriously' and appoint further SPPs to represent the prosecution in the matters.

3. "Directions Fallen On Deaf Ears": Court Imposes 25K Cost On Delhi Police, Calls For Expeditious Trial In Riots Cases

Another Court had imposed a cost of Rs. 25,000 on Delhi Police after observing that the delay in moving an application regarding segregation of complaint in a riots case caused undue harassment to the accused persons, two of whom were in judicial custody. Observing that repeated directions in riots cases have fallen on deaf ears of the Senior police officials, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg had directed the Commissioner of Police to furnish a detailed report regarding steps taken by him to ensure proper investigation or prosecution of riots cases and their expeditious trial.

"Repeated directions have already been issued by this court not only to DCP(NE), Joint Commissioner of Police (Eastern Range) and Commissioner of Police, Delhi seeking their personal intervention in the matters pertaining to the North East riots, however, it appears that all the aforesaid directions have fallen on deaf ears," the Court had said.

The same Judge had also pulled up the Delhi Police for its lackadaisical attitude in investigating the cases pertaining to Delhi Riots, thereby precluding the Court from proceeding in the matter on merits.

Recently, the Judge had expressed unhappiness over pendency of a case concerning the North East Delhi riots since June last year and remarked that it was not able to commit the matter to the concerned Sessions Court due to "lackadaisical attitude" of the Crime Branch police officials and non appearance of the SPP representing the State.

While the aforesaid observations pertained to individual riots cases, a Court had also expressed its concern over the delay in trial in the Delhi Riots larger conspiracy case involving charges under UAPA and IPC. "This will take years, it will become very difficult," said Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat.

Principal District and Sessions Judge, Ramesh Kumar, North East district recently directed the city Police to ensure sensitization of subordinate police officials and expeditious trial of cases concerning the North East Delhi riots. It also directed the DCP, North East district to sensitize the subordinate police officers to comply with the judicial orders and directions of the Trial Court in such cases to ensure that there is no delay in the pending cases.

Also Read: 'Primary Duty Of IO To Assist Court In Expeditious Disposal Of Criminal Cases; Supply Complete Documents To Accused': Delhi Court In Riots Case

'Callous' 'Lackadaisical' Attitude of Delhi Police

4. Delhi Court Discharges Tahir Hussain's Brother Shah Alam And Two Others In Delhi Riot Case Citing Failure Of Investigating Agency To Conduct Proper Investigation

"When history will look back at the worst communal riots since partition in Delhi, it is the failure of investigating agency to conduct proper investigation by using latest scientific methods, will surely torment the sentinels of democracy," observed a Delhi Court while discharging three accused persons including Former AAP Councillor Tahir Hussain's brother Shah Alam, Rashid Saifi and Shadab in FIR 93/2020. 

Pulling up the investigating agency, Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav observed that the case appeared to have been solved merely by filing this charge sheet "without any real effort being made to trace out eye witnesses, real accused persons and technical evidence" in the matter.

"This Court cannot permit such cases to meander mindlessly in the corridors of judicial system, sweeping away precious judicial time of this Court when the same is open and shut case," the Court had said.

"In the North-East District of Delhi, about 750 cases were registered, out of which maximum cases are triable by this Court. This is the sole court dealing with all the matters of riots cases in North-East Delhi. Around 150 cases have been received by this Court for trial after committal. The charges in about 35 cases only have so far been framed . A few matters have been remanded back to the learned MM as no offences triable exclusively by the Court of Sessions were found to be made out. There are a large number of accused persons who have been languishing in jail for the last about 1½ years merely on account of the fact that the trial in their cases are not being initiated. The police seems to be still busy in filing supplementary chargesheets therein. The precious judicial time of this Court is being wasted in giving dates in those cases. A lot of time of this Court is being consumed by the cases like the present one, where there is hardly any investigation carried out by the police," the Court had observed.

5. Delhi Riots- "Very Shocking State Of Affairs": Delhi Court Imposes Rs. 25K Cost On Delhi Police For Failing To Register Seperate FIR Of Injured Man

Observing that the investigation was done in a farcical and casual manner, a Delhi Court had imposed a cost of Rs. 25,000 on Delhi Police while dismissing a revision plea filed by them challenging an order directing them to register a separate FIR of one Mohd. Nasir who had received injuries in the North East Delhi riots.

Pulling up the Delhi Police for its conduct, Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav observed that the SHO Bhajanpura and other supervising officers have miserably failed in performing their statutory duties.

"The mandate of the Delhi High Court Rules, referred to by the learned counsel for the respondent has not been followed by either the police or by learned Illaka MM in the matter, which clearly goes on to establish that the investigation even in case FIR No.64/2020, PS Bhajanpura has been done in a most casual, callous and farcical manner," the Court had said.

The said order however has been stayed by the High Court on Delhi Police's plea challenging the Trial Court's order.

The Judge had earlier pulled up the Delhi Police for its "lackadaisical attitude" for not being aware that a separate FIR was already registered in relation to the Madina Masjid vandalism case. Forming a prima facie opinion that there was negligence on part of the investigating agency, the Court said "This prima facie reflects the callous attitude/negligence on the part of the investigating agency, as it was incumbent upon it to have placed complete material before the learned ACMM (North-East). This Court is quite pained to see the lackadaisical attitude adopted by the investigating agency in the matter." 

6. "Police Officials Themselves Confused, Not A Proper Way Of Conducting The Case": Court Pulls Up Delhi Police, Calls For Effective Prosecution In Riots Cases

A Delhi Court had also pulled up the Delhi Police officials including an SHO over lack of coordination and their confused conduct in connection with a North East Delhi riots case. Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat directed that the copy of the order be sent to Special Commissioner of Police, Division- I (Law and Order) for ensuring better coordination between the police officials and prosecution and for effective prosecution of the riots cases.

While the SHO and two other police officials apprised the Court that the Special Public Prosecutor was not available for the day, the Court quizzed the police as to how it can seek transfer at a later stage when it has earlier opposed the aforesaid charge.

Other instances of the Delhi Police being pulled up by the Courts include when five men were discharged in a riots case, however, the Court had directed the DCP concerned to conduct an enquiry into the manner in which the investigation was conducted by the IO to "find out whether or not there had been any deliberate attempt to shield the offenders."

"The perusal of the charge­sheet does not indicate whether or not were any efforts made by the IO to trace any other witness to the incident in question. It is not clear as to whether the IO chose not to find out any other witness or whether no other person came forward who had seen the incident in question," it had said.

Furthermore, earlier the Court had asked the Delhi Police to clarify as to how two supplementary chargesheets would be filed qua two separate incidents in riots case. Similarly, the Court had also observed that the investigating agency cannot introduce altogether a new case simply by recording a supplementary statement of one of the complainants pertaining to an offence, if there was no mention about the same in initial written complaints made to the police.

Read Also: "Investigating Agency Cannot Cover Up Flaw By Recording Supplementary Statements": Delhi Court Discharges 10 Men Of Graver Offence In Riots Case

7. "Sorry State Of Affairs": Court Expresses Dismay Over Police Witness Lying On Oath About Identification Of Accused In Riots Case

Terming it to be a sorry state of affairs, a Delhi Court had expressed dismay over the action of a police witness lying on oath regarding identification of three accused persons in a Delhi riots case.

Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav, who sought a status report to be filed by DCP, North East in this regard, said thus "Prima facie, one of the police witnesses is lying on oath punishable u/s 193 IPC."

"It is brought to my notice by the Ld. Defence Counsel that FIR bearing no.134/21, PS Gokalpuri has been registered in the matter on the complaint of Sh.Nisar Ahmed in which aforesaid three persons have been specifically named as accused persons but even in that case, the said accused persons have not been interrogated. This is a very sorry state of affairs," the Court said.

Another city Court had warned an Investigating Officer of the Delhi Police over his non-preparedness in appearing in a riots case. Stating that it is the responsibility of the IO to come prepared before the Court, Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat had objected to the delay done by the officer in arranging the videos and photos being relied upon by the Prosecution in the matter.

Read Also: 'Police Itself Didn't Know That They Were Investigating The Case': Delhi Court Expresses Surprise In Case Relating To Delhi Riots

Lack of Supervision, Police Failing In Supervisory Duties, Adjournments

8. 'Complete Lack Of Supervision By Senior Police Officers': Court Slams Delhi Police Over Manner Of Investigation In Delhi Riots Cases

A city Court had slammed the Delhi Police for the manner in which it has carried on investigation in FIRs and criminal cases pertaining to the riots.

"The investigating agency has evidently been found to be on the wrong side of law," remarked the Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav. The Judge was hearing a revision petition filed by the Police against an order of the Metropolitan Magistrate, directing the authorities to lodge separate FIRs on the complaints made by the Respondent, Nishar Ahmed.

The Judge observed that "all is not over yet" and even if the senior officers look into the matter(s) now and take remedial measures, justice could be given to the victims."

9. "Police Failing In Supervisory Duties, Trying To Avoid Responsibility By Not Concluding Investigation": Court Again Raps Delhi Police In Riots Case

A Delhi Court had rapped the Delhi Police for failing in their supervisory duties thereby avoiding to take any responsibility in a Delhi riots case by not concluding investigation despite repeated court orders, thereby causing a delay in the trial.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar had reported the matter to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi in order to bring the conduct of the SHO and DCP concerned into his notice after observing thus:

"I deem it appropriate to report the matter to Commissioner of Police, Delhi so as to bring the conduct of the SHO PS Gokal Puri and DCP (NE) to his notice in as much as they are failing in their supervisory duties despite receipt of copy of last order of this court and are trying to avoid taking any responsibility in the matter by not concluding further investigation in the present matter despite repeated directions causing delay in trial despite the fact that all the four accused in the present case are in JC for over a period of almost one year."

10. [Delhi Riots] "Adjournments Sought By SPPs, IOs In Very Casual Manner": Court Imposes 5K Cost As Salary Cut

While hearing a case concerning the Delhi Riots, a Court had expressed concern over the casual approach in which the Investigating Officers conduct the cases entrusted to them.

"It has been observed by this court that the Ld. SPPs and 1Os do not appear in the cases on the dates fixed and when they appear after prodding of senior officers by the court the senior police officers, they appear in the court without inspection of the file and seeks adjournment in a very casual manner for compliance of the directions passed by the court on the dates on which they had appeared," observed Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg.

The Judge had noted that even though such conduct of the police as well as SPPs has already been brought to the notice of senior police officers including SHOs, ACPs, DCP(NE) and Commissioner of Police, Delhi, however, they have failed to ensure that such incidents do not take place any more.

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