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SC questions police’s lobbing tear gas in enclosed camp

The Supreme Court, on Monday, sought an explanation from Delhi Police on whether it could lob tear gas and water cannons in enclosed premises. Bhadra Sinha reports.

delhi Updated: Jul 11, 2011 23:44 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times

The Supreme Court, on Monday, sought an explanation from Delhi Police on whether it could lob tear gas and water cannons in enclosed premises.

Delhi Police's response was sought after the Baba Ramdev-run Bharat Swabhiman Trust alleged that the police had committed atrocities during its June 2 midnight crackdown inside the enclosed pandal at Ramlila Maidan. The trust claimed that the crowd had gathered to attend a yoga camp.

A special bench comprising Justice BS Chauhan and Justice Swantanter Kumar posed these questions to senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Delhi Police, and said, "It is not expected that tear gas and water cannons should be used in enclosed parts...Was it not that people at 11:30pm were sleeping? You resort to lathi charge. The photographs show the Commissioner of police is talking to someone."

It also added that the law enforcement agency was required to respond on some of the issues on which it had been silent in its affidavit.

The Delhi Police had filed an affidavit after the apex court, on June 6, took suo motu cognisance of the crackdown.

Dissatisfied with the affidavit, the bench told Salve that it did not furnish any explanation over the use of tear gas and water cannons in the enclosed premises. The bench also questioned Delhi Police's inability to register FIRs on the complaints of Ramdev's followers against the atrocities committed by authorities.

Referring to the DVDs and photographs, the bench stated, "It clearly shows that yoga was being practiced at the venue." The court noted that Delhi Police's affidavit did not furnish any details of what happened between June 1 and June 3 and directed it to "explain the situations that provoked them to stop Ramdev from carrying forward his programme".

Justifying its crackdown, the police had claimed that the authorities had permitted Ramdev to use the ground only for yoga camp. However, the yoga guru started instigating his followers and was planning to take out a political rally.

SC's poser came following an affidavit filed by the Ramdev-run Bharat Swabhiman Trust that was asked to file its response to Delhi Police's affidavit in the court. Ramdev's counsel, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, accused Union Home Minister P Chidambaram of being behind the crackdown.

Jethmalani said Chidambaram should be asked to personally furnish an explanation. He also added Ramdev had taken a decision not to walk down to Jantar Mantar on the issue of corruption and had been staying with his followers at the Ramlila Maidan when the crackdown took place.

First Published: Jul 11, 2011 23:43 IST