Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal has written to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, asking him to take a decision within a week regarding Delhi Police’s proposal to appoint six senior advocates to argue on its behalf in north-east Delhi riots and anti-CAA protest cases.
Mr. Baijal wrote that acting Home Minister Manish Sisodia did not agree to Delhi Police’s proposal despite the force providing detailed justifications for it. According to sources, a meeting between Mr. Baijal and Mr. Sisodia through videoconference took place on Friday but the matter could not be resolved.
AAP objected to the “constant intervention” of the central government-appointed L-G in the appointment of special public prosecutors in cases pertaining to riots. Delhi Police have proposed the appointment of six senior advocates to argue on its behalf in 85 cases of riots in north-east Delhi and to assign 24 cases of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act to special public prosecutors, according to sources.
The L-G was quoted as having requested Mr. Kejriwal to refer the matter to the Council of Ministers and take a decision “expeditiously, preferably within a week”.
According to sources, the L-G was expected to have the final word on the issue if the Cabinet did not agree to the police request. Mr. Baijal can, according to sources, invoke his special powers under the provisions of Article 239AA (4) of the Constitution.
‘Independent prosecutors must’
AAP MP Sanjay Singh said there were allegations against the Delhi Police, which functions under the L-G, on how they have conducted the investigation in riot-related cases and the public prosecutors should be independent.
He said the AAP government in Delhi is committed to ensuring the strictest possible punishment to all those involved in the riots, but for that to happen, “independent investigation by the police and a free and fair trial are a must”. “The LG and the Centre are insisting on the appointment of a panel of special public prosecutors chosen by the Central government. This is happening at a time when there are very serious allegations on the response of Delhi Police to these riots as well as how the investigation process is going on. There are reports that the police is busy implicating some people, while at the same time trying to save others,” Mr. Singh said.
“It is extremely important that the public prosecutors for these cases are independent. If they are under the Central government and appointed by Delhi Police itself, their independence is under serious question. Therefore, it is important that the panel of lawyers chosen by Delhi government represent these cases in the courts,” he added.
AAP MLA Raghav Chadha said that under CrPC, it is very clear that the Public Prosecutor is a representative of the State and not the police.
Raj Niwas statement
In a statement issued later in the day, Raj Niwas said: “It is beyond doubt that the public prosecutor represents the state by virtue of his office. At the same time, he is also an officer of the court and is required to render assistance to the court to arrive at a just and equitable decision. While discharging these duties, he acts in a manner that is fair to the court, to the investigating agencies, as well to the right of the accused with guiding principles of the spirit of law based on prudence, common sense and equity.
“Therefore, there is no reason to imagine that the public prosecutors appointed wouldn’t perform their duty fearlessly and impartially as the officers of the court. We have full faith in the judicial process and we are committed to ensure that the guilty in the riot cases are awarded the strictest punishment as per law.”
The first round of confrontation between the AAP government and the L-G over the appointment of 11 special public prosecutors in riots cases happened in June. When the Delhi government rejected the police’s request on the issue, the L-G had invoked his special powers.