Special prosecutors appointed by us not binding on Delhi govt, police tells HC
The Delhi police on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that the appointment of Special Public Prosecutors (SPPs) for the north-east Delhi riots was not “binding” on the state government.
The police, in an affidavit, told Justice Pratibha M Singh that it had merely sent a recommendation for the appointment of the SPPs under law but the decision was taken by the Delhi government using its constitutional power. The investigating agency said that it would not want to interfere in the internal matters of the city government.
“…the police does not have the authority to appoint Special Public Prosecutors and it falls within the domain of the Delhi government. Delhi police being an investigating agency had recommended the name of the prosecutors who were met the criteria and had vast professional experience as practicing lawyers in criminal matters.
“However, such recommendations are not binding and the Delhi government, subject to the constitutional limitations, is empowered to appoint such SPPs,” the Delhi police said, while responding to a plea by the Delhi Prosecutors Welfare Association (DPWA) challenging appointment of the SPPs in the riots cases.
The police, in response, also said that an investigation is taken to its logical conclusion by prosecution and Delhi Police has consistently recommended the appointment of certain counsels as SPPs.
During the hearing, additional standing counsel of the Delhi government, Gautam Narayan told the court that the list sent by the police was initially rejected by the Delhi government, which had forwarded its own list of SPPs.
However, the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) intervened in the matter and did not agree with the Delhi government’s list and in view of the difference of opinion, the matter was referred to the President of India who approved the list sent by the police.
“The Delhi government only issued the notification informing about the appointment of the SPPs and it has not appointed them,” he added.
Justice Singh, after the brief hearing, was of the view that the petition appeared to be in the nature of a PIL and directed the high court registry to list it before the appropriate bench on March 15.
The plea filed through advocates Kushal Kumar and Akashdeep Gupta has questioned how SPPs can be appointed at the behest of the police. It has contended that the prosecution has to be independent and insulated from the police and therefore, the SPPs cannot be appointed at the behest of the investigating agency.
The petition has sought quashing of Delhi government’s June 24, 2020 notification appointing the SPPs, including Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, on the grounds that it was issued on police recommendations.