‘Accusations in police affidavit unwarranted: Delhi HC on Delhi riots case
The Delhi High Court on Thursday said that the affidavit filed by the Delhi police against Pinjra Tod member Devangana Kalita, accusing her of peddling false narrative through social media, is completely “unwarranted”. It said that the information and allegations made by the city police were not required for a plea which Kalita had filed challenging the selective media leaks by the police. Kalita was arrested in connection with the communal violence during protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru said that allegations made in the affidavit filed by the city police are “unwarranted” considering the limited scope of the petition. It said that the police cannot say that since the petitioner wanted a media trial therefore it was putting out information in the media.
“You cannot support a media trial. That cannot be the approach of the police. There has to be some restraint that they have to follow. Your affidavit goes way beyond this..,” the judge said. He suggested that the document filed in the court be withdrawn because of excess information, which is not required in the present matter.
Kalita had moved the court through advocate Adit S Pujari, stating through a media note, and selective leaks to the media on contents of charge-sheets in the Delhi riots cases has caused immense damage to her reputation and fundamental right to a fair trial and a presumption of innocence.
The plea also said that such coverage, which is directly attributable to leaks of the Delhi Police, has caused Kalita to fear for her own safety, as also the safety of her relatives in Assam and her husband in Delhi. The Delhi High Court on June 12 had restrained the city police from giving out any press notes to the media.
The court, on Thursday, said that in the instant matter it was only going to examine under what circumstances the police can issue official communique or press notes about a case and in what manner.
“We are not sure the facts in the affidavit have any basis. Some of the allegations have been made irresponsibly,” Justice Bakhru said while also adding that such kind of affidavit was not expected from the police.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Aman Lekhi, appearing for the police, said the statements in the affidavit were made in response to the allegations in the petition that there has been a witch hunt against the petitioner - JNU student Devangana Kalita.
Later, ASG Lekhi said he will not rely upon the affidavit and will confine his arguments to the point of law following which the matter was listed for hearing on July 15. It said that the interim order of the court restraining the police from giving notes to the media is also extended to the next date of hearing.
The city police, in an affidavit, had informed the court that Kalita has “peddled a false social media narrative of state-sponsored oppression and subjugation against a particular community which incited the Delhi riots. It said that she herself had started a ‘media trial’ in her favour to gain sympathy and generate public opinion in her favour.
Kalita, who was arrested on May 23, is lodged in Tihar Jail under judicial custody in a case associated with violence in old Delhi’ s Daryaganj area during anti- CAA protests in December last year. Three cases have been registered against her in relation to northeast Delhi riots.