HC asks cops to find official who leaked riot accused’s statement to media
The Delhi high court on Friday said that riot accused Asif Iqbal Tanha’s disclosure statement to the police had been “leaked” to the media and directed the police to identify and fix responsibility of all erring officials.
Justice Mukta Gupta asked the Delhi Police Commissioner to file an affidavit fixing responsibility of the person instrumental in leaking information to the media.
The judge also pulled up the police for the leak of a second supplementary charge sheet filed in the case related to communal violence in north-east Delhi last year even before cognisance was taken by the concerned court
“It is a proven allegation (of leak) once it comes in the media. It no longer remains an allegation now. You have to ascertain who has done it,” the court told the counsel for the police.
“Please fix the responsibility.. And don’t do the kind of enquiry that you did last time..,” the court added.
The court was hearing a plea by Tanha seeking action against alleged misconduct of police officials in leaking his disclosure statement to the media. On the last date of hearing, the court had pulled up the city police for their “half baked” vigilance inquiry in ascertaining the role of the police officials who could have leaked the document to the media.
Tanha, a third-year student of BA in Persian language, was arrested in May last year in connection to conspiracy in the north-east Delhi riots cases. He was earlier arrested in connection with violence in the Jamia area during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in December last year.
The police had said that Tanha was a member of the Students Islamic Organization and was part of the Jamia Coordination Committee, which spearheaded protests against the new citizenship law.
On Friday, advocate Siddharth Aggarwal — appearing for Tanha — told the court that even when this matter is sub judice, yet another charge sheet in the main conspiracy case related to the north-east Delhi riots was leaked to the media even before cognizance was taken in the court.
The court then asked the police to find the person who is instrumental in committing the three offences—misuse of official power, criminal breach of trust or theft.
“You have to find out the person who is instrumental. Who will do it if you don’t do it? If your officer has leaked it, it’s abuse of power, if for sanction this was entrusted to someone else it’s criminal breach of trust and if the media has taken it away then it’s a theft. So in any case, an offence is made out,” the judge said nudging the police.
It cautioned that various courts are repeatedly commenting on the role of media but are still lenient and are not passing orders.
Advocate Amit Mahajan, representing the Delhi Police, maintained that the contents of the supplementary charge-sheet were not leaked to the media by police. He said the responsibility cannot be fixed on police as they have not leaked it.
The high court said that the earlier order was clear that there would not be any media briefing till charges are framed.
The matter would be now heard on March 25.