Arvind Kejriwal's government today rejected a panel of lawyers recommended by the Delhi Police to represent it in cases linked to the February riots in the capital, setting up a new point of confrontation with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi were to be on the six-member panel of special prosecutors.
The Delhi government said the panel suggested by the police would not be impartial and directed its home department to bring in lawyers who are "unbiased" and "best in the country".
The Delhi police, which reports to the Union Home Ministry, had on July 10 recommended the panel to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government.
The police was recently accused by a Delhi High Court judge of "misusing the judicial system" and taking the "system for ride".
The Delhi government said its counsel Rahul Mehra and his team should handle the cases instead. But Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal stepped in and endorsed the lawyers suggested by the police.
Mr Baijal gave the Delhi government a week to take a decision on the panel appointed to fight 85 cases related to the communal violence in northeast Delhi, in which 53 died and over 200 were injured.
"The Delhi cabinet rejected the Delhi Police's lawyer panel. The cabinet believes the Delhi Police probe into the riots has not been held impartial by the court. So an impartial trial of cases will not be possible if approval is granted to the Delhi Police panel," the Kejriwal government said in a statement.
This opens up a new front in the feud between the AAP government and the Lieutenant Governor.
AAP has expressed "strong objection to the constant intervention" of the Lieutenant Governor in the appointment of special public prosecutors, insisting that the prosecutors have to be "independent" to ensure a free and fair trial.
Mr Baijal's office had said that the cases involved large scale communal violence and required careful handling in view of the gravity and the "deep impact on society".