Lt Governor Vetoes AAP Government On Delhi Riots Lawyers' Panel

The Lieutenant Governor has signed off on the six-member panel recommended by Delhi Police, two days after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government rejected it.

Lt Governor Vetoes AAP Government On Delhi Riots Lawyers' Panel
New Delhi:

The Arvind Kejriwal government was vetoed by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal today on the panel of lawyers to represent the Delhi Police in cases linked to the February riots in the capital.

The Lieutenant Governor has signed off on the six-member panel recommended by Delhi Police - which includes Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi - two days after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government rejected it.

The Delhi government is bound by the constitution to accept the decision, said sources close to Mr Baijal.

The Delhi police, which reports to the Union Home Ministry, had recommended the panel on July 10 to fight 85 cases related to the communal violence in northeast Delhi, in which 53 died and over 200 were injured.

The police were recently accused by a Delhi High Court judge of "misusing the judicial system" and taking the "system for ride", after which AAP raised doubts about lawyers recommended by them.

The Delhi government said its counsel Rahul Mehra and his team should handle the cases instead. But the Lieutenant Governor stepped in and endorsed the lawyers suggested by the police.

Mr Baijal gave the Delhi government a week to decide on the panel.

On Tuesday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet met and decided that the panel suggested by the police would not be impartial. The Delhi cabinet also directed the city home department to bring in lawyers who are "unbiased" and "best in the country".

"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. But Mr Baijal has overruled that decision.

Recently, AAP said it had "strong objection to the constant intervention" of the Lieutenant Governor in the appointment of special public prosecutors. Mr Baijal's office had responded saying the cases involved large scale communal violence and required careful handling in view of the gravity and the "deep impact on society".