A Delhi court on Friday castigated the city police for not taking proper steps for the prosecution of cases related to the violence in the Capital in February 2020, Live Law reported.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg said that if the police do not ensure effective prosecution of the cases, he will have to pass adverse orders, including imposing adjournment costs to be deducted from the salaries of the officers responsible.
The court has asked the Delhi Police Commissioner to personally look into the matter.
Between February 23 and February 26, 2020, clashes broke out between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing the law in North East Delhi. The violence claimed 53 lives and hundreds were injured. A majority of those killed were Muslim.
The magistrate on Friday was hearing a case filed on a complaint of a man named Rizwan, who alleged that a mob of about 200 to 300 people vandalised his house and looted around Rs 4,80,000.
The magistrate made the remarks criticising the police after the investigating officer sought an adjournment saying that he had not gone through the case files and was not able to answer the court’s questions.
The court also noted that the special public prosecutor only appeared before it on the second call, and that too, in order to “seek a passover”. A passover refers to a case being taken up later in the day.
“Such lackadaisical approach on the part of the prosecution as well as the investigating agency in riots cases has been repeatedly brought to the notice of not only the DCP [Deputy Commissioner of Police] North East and Joint CP (Joint Commissioner of Police] Eastern Range but has also been brought to the notice of the Commissioner of Police, Delhi,” the court observed.
Magistrate Garg said that the police’s failure to take measures for prosecution of the cases was causing an “avoidable delay in the trial”, PTI reported.
He asked the Delhi Police chief to ensure the presence of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, North East before the court on the next hearing, “failing which the Court shall be constrained to pass an appropriate order without any further opportunity.”
The matter will be heard next on October 1.
The court had criticised the police on September 6 as well, and requested the Delhi Police chief to ensure expeditious investigation in cases related to the violence, according to PTI.
In recent months, several other courts have rebuked the Delhi police for their handling of cases relating to the 2020 violence.
On September 3, Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav had said that the police had failed to conduct a fair investigation in riots cases and to ensure that the victims get justice.
The judge had added: “I am not able to restrain myself from observing that when history will look back at the worst communal riots since partition in Delhi, it is the failure of investigating agency to conduct proper investigation by using latest scientific methods, will surely torment the sentinels of democracy.”
Further, in at least three cases, courts have pointed to irregularities in the manner in which FIRs were filed. On some occasions, the police filed multiple cases in the same police station for the same incident. In other cases, it clubbed multiple complaints in a single FIR, as reported by Scroll.in.