The beleaguered Haryana government’s assertions in Punjab and Haryana high court that criticism of investigation during hearings and further supervision by the court of February-2016 Jat quota violence cases “may not be in the interest of justice” has not gone down well with the court.
The division bench of justices SS Saron and Lisa Gill made it clear to the government on Saturday that it had never interfered with the investigations of the government and only wanted it to investigate matter in fair and transparent manner. “But it was the state that was not serious to pursue the cases and court had to intervene,” the HC bench said citing example of alleged Murthal gangrape cases, where an FIR was registered on court’s intervention.
“If you want us to lay our hands off the matter, I (We) am not going to do it. I am sorry. We are not going to buckle down,” the high court bench said, adding monitoring by the high court would continue and that if state was aggrieved, it could approach the SC.
“We are even ready to face strictures from Supreme Court for a public cause,” the bench added.
In the affidavit filed by the secretary, home department, Nitin Kumar Yadav, the government had said, “When the jurisdictional magistrates are seized of the matter and investigation is going on, discussions, deliberations and/ or criticism of the investigation seriously hampers the course of law under the code of criminal procedure and may not be in the interest of justice.”
The government had also argued for high court not supervising investigations as it “might not be in the interest of justice”. The state’s response had come on the high court asking state as to why all the cases of February violence should not be handed over to the CBI.
Tushar Mehta, additional solicitor general of India, who appeared on behalf of state government, however, offered to withdraw the statement, which the high court refused. “There are 2000 FIRs. All can’t be looked into by the high court. We are proposing a mechanism under which investigation as per law is carried out, but of course with the approval of high court,” he said.
However, court was not amused. “Why impression is gaining ground that state wants to protect the protesters,” it asked, “What is worrying is that it appears there is a protective umbrella for protesters because they are vote banks,” the high court said, further observing that in the independent India, there was no incident in Haryana and Punjab, where parallels could be drawn with the devastation seen during the February 2016 quota protests. “Even in the peak of terrorism days in Punjab, we have not seen such incidents. It is disheartening to see devastation (of this scale), the high court bench observed.
It was amicus curaie, senior advocate Anupam Gupta, who drew attention of the court towards the content of affidavit filed in court.
“The government says that the court should withdraw itself from the case as it was coming in the way of justice,” he said pointing towards affidavits content.
Sorry, case too big to handle: CBI
The CBI on the other hand opposed any move for transfer of probe from state police to it. “We do not have the infrastructure or the manpower to probe the matter of this magnitude,” the CBI counsel, Sumeet Goel, told HC. The HC had issued notice on Thursday as to why all FIRs registered into Jat quota violence should not be handed over to the CBI for further investigations.