Three senior law officers — Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor Generals Maninder Acharya and Aman Lekhi — have been appointed special public prosecutor/ special counsel in a case involving the arrest of a 25-year-old woman in relation to the Delhi riots.
The submission was made by Delhi government standing counsel Rahul Mehra before the Delhi High Court, which was seized of a habeas corpus petition filed by the brother of Gulfisha Fatima, an MBA student, who has been under continued detention since she was arrested on April 9.
Mr. Mehra said Delhi Home Minister Satyendra Jain had made an endorsement approving the appointment of special public prosecutor/ special counsel to represent the Delhi police in the present case.
He stated that the above law officers/ special counsels would represent the Delhi government and police in the case since the approval of the Delhi government was specifically obtained.
The central government submitted that the approval of the Home Minister was obtained by the Delhi police so as to avoid any controversy.
Submission was made in response to a query made by the High Court, on the date of the previous hearing, seeking clarity on who will represent the police and government in the case.
The petition was filed by Aqil Hussain over the continued detention of his sister under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) when the Special Courts that could extend custody were not functioning due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
Ms. Fatima, along with others, was initially arrested over an FIR lodged in Jafrabad police station for allegedly instigating a crowd to block the road near Jaffrabad metro station on February 22 to protest against the CAA and NRC.
Later, the stringent provisions under UAPA were invoked against her in a separate FIR, which is under investigation by the crime branch. The Delhi police had earlier opposed her bail application before the trial court saying that her conduct was “attributable to anti-national activity”.
Mr. Hussain had stated that even though his sister was granted bail in an initial FIR, she remains in custody due to the alleged charges against her under UAPA.
As per the National Investigation Agency Act, offences under the UAPA can be tried only by a Special Court constituted under the NIA Act.
The petition said, the Special Courts empowered to extend judicial custody of Ms. Fatima have not been functioning since March 23, when the first lockdown began. “This constitutes a deprivation of the liberty of Ms. Gulfisha without due process, and therefore violates her fundamental right to life and liberty secured under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” the plea said.
It said the continued detention of Ms. Fatima was without authority of law and urged the High Court to released her immediately.