A Delhi court on Tuesday pulled up the city police for not making any progress in a case lodged in June related to the February 2020 violence in the Capital, reported PTI.
This is “really a sorry state of affairs”, Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav observed.
The comments came after the police told the court that the people named in the complaint have not been interrogated yet.
In April, the court had directed the police to lodge a first information report after a man identified as Nasir Ahmed, a resident of Delhi’s Bhagirathi Vihar area, claimed he was a witness to the violence. He had claimed that he identified several people from a mob of 200 to 250 persons who were rioting near Gokalpuri toll tax building on February 24 last year.
In his complaint filed on March 13 this year, Ahmed alleged that the mob had installed loudspeakers and urged the “persons of a particular community to go and vandalise and put on fire the houses of persons of other community”, reported The Indian Express.
He had said his house was also vandalised and looted on February 25, 2020.
Clashes had broken in North East Delhi in February 2020 between the supporters and opponents of the Citizenship Amendment Act, which introduced a religious criterion for citizenship for the first time. At least 53 people, mostly Muslims, died in the violence. Hundreds were injured.
Ahmed had also told the court he had called the police for help on the day his godown was set on fire as well as when the loudspeakers were installed but they did not respond.
He had then filed several complaints with the police but no action was taken, according to PTI. Ahmed had claimed that he had also received threats after which the witness protection committee had asked the police to protect him.
He had then approached the district court seeking direction to the police to treat his complaint as an FIR. The court allowed his plea on October 26 and directed the police to register the case.
The police challenged the order but it was dismissed by Yadav on April 26. The police had then filed the FIR in June, nearly two months after Yadav’s directives.
During Tuesday’s hearing, the court said the case has not been given attention either by the Delhi police commissioner or the newly-formed Special Investigation Cell, which has been tasked to monitor the investigation in the riot cases.
“It is being claimed by the police in other cases of riots that the circumstances prevailing during the period of riots and almost four weeks thereafter were really difficult and the police could not investigate the cases properly,” said the judge. “Thereafter, Delhi was engulfed in the coronavirus pandemic and, as such, the quality investigation in the matter could not take place.”
The court asked if the police can use the same excuse in the present case. “The answer has to be “clear no”,” the court said.
Special Public Prosecutor Sanjeev Sahay, who has recently replaced the earlier advocate, said that he has gone through the chargesheet but needed to take instructions on the matter to know about the case as well as others related to the Delhi violence.
The court allowed him time till the next hearing on October 22 to obtain instruction and then inform the court about the state of the investigation.
Courts’ views on violence cases
In recent months, several Delhi courts have rebuked the police for their handling of cases related to the 2020 violence.
On September 17, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar castigated the police for not taking proper steps for the prosecution of the violence cases. He had 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.
On September 3, 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.