Delhi riots: Prez approves L-G’s list of 11 spl public prosecutors
Delhi’s home department has issued a notification regarding the appointment of 11 special public prosecutors (SPPs) for all cases related to the February riots in north-east Delhi after President Ram Nath Kovind signed off on the list approved by Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Anil Baijal.
Kovind’s intervention was required after Delhi Police, which comes under the L-G, and the state’s elected Aam Aadmi Party government were locked in confrontation over the appointment of the special public prosecutors. While the L-G approved the panel of the public prosecutors proposed by the Delhi Police, the Delhi government rejected it and created its own. The L-G , on May 29, referred the matter to President Kovind for reference. In case of a difference between the state’s elected government and the L-G, the latter has to refer the matter to the President, whose decision is binding on both.
Senior police officers said on condition of anonymity that the President gave his decision in favour of the L-G, after which a notification was issued on Wednesday (June 24), appointing the panel of SPPs proposed by the Delhi Police. HT has reviewed a copy of the appointment order.
A media advisor to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said the state government has to respect the President’s decision. “We opposed the move and demanded that an independent panel proposed by us be appointed. But now that the President has approved the panel recommended by the Police, the Delhi government has no option but to abide by the decision.”
The L-G’s office did not respond to calls and messages seeking a comment on the matter.
The notification, signed by Delhi’s deputy secretary (home) Pawan Kumar, says the appointment of the special public prosecutors has been done exercising “the powers conferred by sub-section (8) of section 24 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (2 of 1974) read with the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs notification...”
It adds that the appointed SPPs “shall conduct all court proceedings including bail, trial, appeals, and all the miscellaneous matters incidental to and connected with all the FIRs which have been registered in respect of riots in north-east district (police district), Delhi or any other matter related to those FIRs).”
The 11 appointed SPPs named in the notification are Manoj Chaudhary, Rajiv Krishna Sharma, Nitin Raj Sharma, Devender Kumar Bhatia, Naresh Kumar Gaur, Amit Prasad, Jinendra Jain, Anuj Handa, Ram Chander Singh Bhadoria, Uttam Datt and Salim Ahmad.
“We have received the list of 11 special public prosecutors through the notification. They will represent us (Delhi Police) in the courts in the north-east Delhi riots cases,” said Delhi Police spokesperson Mandeep Singh Randhawa.
The appointed SPPs will start appearing in the courts from Saturday( June 27), said an officer from the Delhi Police’s legal cell, requesting anonymity.
A total of 53 people were killed and at least 400 were injured in the communal riots that ravaged several parts of north-east Delhi in February. Around 750 first information reports (FIRs) were filed and at least 1,300 people have been arrested in connection with the violence, prompted by clashes between two groups, one for the Citizenship Amendment Act and the other against. The clashes soon escalated into a communal clash between Hindus and Muslims. The police have thus far filed charge-sheets in nearly 100 cases.
The confrontation between the L-G and the Delhi government over the appointment of SPPs began in April.
A senior police officer associated with the investigation into the riots said the city police sent to the L-G’s office the list of a panel of public prosecutors. The L-G endorsed the police’s move and the file was sent to the Delhi government for perusal by home minister Satyendar Jain.
The state government suggested that a panel of “independent and technically qualified” special public prosecutors to be appointed to represent the state. Jain formed a fresh panel of lawyers, and issued orders on April 16 that they be notified as the special public prosecutors.
The Delhi Police subsequently withdrew its list and submitted a second list on April 24. This was rejected by the Delhi government with Jain reiterating his order of notifying the original panel suggested by him. Jain met the L-G on May 21, but the differences persisted. The L-G wrote to the government on May 23 and later invoked Article 239AA(4) of the Constitution (difference of opinion with the council of ministers) to refer the matter to the President.