Delhi Police on Tuesday opposed in the high court a plea to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to inquire into alleged police atrocities that took place in Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University in December 2019 following student protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
The police responded to an 'amendment application' - filed in a pending PIL concerning the incident of violence at the varsity - that also sought the transfer of FIRs lodged against students to an independent agency and argued that a "stranger" cannot seek a judicial inquiry or investigation by any third-party agency.
The police stated that the application was "nothing but a disguised attempt by a third party interloper to interfere in criminal matters in the garb of PIL" and a PIL petitioner cannot be permitted to choose the members of SIT for investigating and prosecuting any alleged offence.
"The petitioners, who are third-party strangers under the garb of PIL, cannot seek either a judicial inquiry or investigation by any third-party agency for ventilating grievances of persons who are not before the Hon'ble Court. It is submitted that an amendment which changes the nature of the plaint/petition, in law, cannot be permitted," the reply said.
"It is submitted that the petitioners, who claim to be students of Jamia, do not have locus to seek registration of FIR/judicial inquiry or investigation by a third party agency on behalf of a third person stranger. It is well settled that it is impermissible in law to seek the intervention of the Hon'ble Courts in criminal matters in the garb of PIL," it added.
In relation to the incident, several petitions are pending before the high court seeking directions for setting up an SIT, Commission of Inquiry (CoI) or a fact-finding committee, medical treatment, compensation and interim protection from arrest for the students and registration of FIRs against the erring police officers.
The petitioners are lawyers, students of JMI, residents of Okhla in south Delhi where the university is located, and the Imam of Jama Masjid mosque opposite Parliament House.
Last month, a division bench headed by Justice Siddharth Mridul granted a last opportunity to the Delhi Police to reply to an "amendment application" to introduce certain new prayers to a pending plea by Nabila and others.
The court on Tuesday listed the case for further hearing on January 12.
In its reply, the police asserted that in the garb of student agitation, there was a well-planned and orchestrated attempt by some persons with local support to intentionally perpetrate violence in the area and subsequently, a comprehensive investigation has been carried out by the Crime Branch of Delhi Police in several FIRs.
"It is manifested from the electronic evidence collected and also from the statements recorded that in the garb of student agitation what happened in fact appears to be a well-planned and orchestrated attempt by some persons with local support (who were not students) to intentionally perpetrate violence in the area.
"As such, the prime contention of the petitioners that it was a mere student protest; and that the demonstration was peaceful is an utter falsehood," the response said.
The police stated that it was impermissible for the petitioner to expand the scope of the pending petition by including an untenable and non-maintainable prayer and by seeking unwarranted intrusion in the criminal proceedings which have already commenced and are at an advanced stage.
The investigating agency said that it is for the alleged victims to pursue their legal remedy before the competent court of law and none of the alleged aggrieved students have approached any court till now.
It further said that the prayer of the petitioner suggesting the names of persons to be nominated to the SIT was untenable, "smacks of malice and seeks to ostensibly achieve something clandestinely behind the facade of a public interest litigation".
"There are enough safeguards provided under law to protect the interest of any individual either claiming to be an aggrieved victim, claiming to be innocent or to demonstrate that the person has been falsely implicated in an offence.
"It is thus for the individual concerned, against whom any criminal proceeding is lodged to work out his remedy, as provided under CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code)," the reply said.
In the petition, the only prayer that survives in the petition was for directions to set up a court-monitored committee to conduct a judicial inquiry into the alleged violence by the police and paramilitary forces, the police stated.
On October 19, the Supreme Court requested the high court to "hear out early" the petitions concerning the incidents of violence while noting that "these matters are pending before the high court for some time now".
In the main petitions, the petitioners have said that there was a need for an SIT that was independent of the police and the central government which by their conduct has shown that their investigation into the violence was "not independent".
They have said that such a move would also "reassure the public" and would restore the people's faith in the system.
Earlier, the police had opposed the petitions, saying that the reliefs sought by the petitioners cannot be granted as charge sheets have been filed in connection with the violence and they should have sought whatever relief they want before the subordinate court concerned.
On the issue of police entering the varsity without permission, the police's counsel had said internationally police are not denied access to educational institutions and universities.
With regard to providing compensation to students who were seriously injured in the violence, he had said that the same can be awarded only if there was an admission of the breach and in the present case the issue was still being examined.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)