A court in Delhi has asked the city police commissioner to conduct an inquiry and deduct Rs 5,000 from the salary of an officer who failed to appear before it and sought an adjournment in a case related to the February 2020 violence, Live Law reported. The court said the officer had failed to make an appearance despite repeated orders to do so.

At least 53 people had died and hundreds were injured in clashes that had broken out between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and February 26, 2020, in North East Delhi. The majority of the victims were Muslim.

Numerous court orders granting bail to those named in these cases have criticised the Delhi Police investigation.

In his September 25 order, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg observed that special public prosecutors and investigating officers do not appear for hearings on the dates fixed, and when they do come after “prodding of senior officers”, it is without inspecting the files. After this, the officials seek adjournment of the case in a “very casual manner”, the judge added.

Garg imposed the fine after the police failed to comply with a previous order in which he had directed the investigating officer to supply a copy of an “e-challan” to one of the accused, Komal Mishra. The investigating officer told the court that the document was not given to Mishra as he was not aware of the April 12 order, and sought an adjournment in the case.

“The aforesaid conduct of the police as well as SPPs [special public prosecutors] has already been brought to the notice of senior police officers including SHOs [station house officers], ACPs [assistant commissioner of police], DCP [deputy commissioner of police] and Commissioner of Police, Delhi, however, they have failed to ensure that such incidents do not take place anymore,” the judge noted.

He allowed the request for adjournment in the case after imposing the fine. The money will be deducted from the officer’s salary and deposited in the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

“This court is not oblivious of the fact that burden of this cost shall fall on public exchequer and hence I deem it appropriate to direct commissioner of Police Delhi to conduct an inquiry and to order deduction of aforesaid cost from the salary of responsible officer under intimation to this court within four weeks,” the judge said.

On September 17, Garg had pulled up police for their “lackadaisical approach” in handling cases related to the communal violence.

He had even warned that if the police do not ensure effective prosecution of the cases, he would have to pass adverse orders, including imposing adjournment costs to be deducted from the salaries of the officers responsible.

Orders criticising the Delhi Police inquiry

In recent months, several Delhi courts have rebuked the police for their handling of cases related to the 2020 violence.

On Tuesday, a court pulled up the police for not making any progress in a case lodged in June and observed that it was a “really a sorry state of affairs”.

On September 3, Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav said the police had failed to conduct a fair investigation in riots cases and to ensure that the victims get justice.

“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,” Yadav said.

Further, in at least three cases, courts have pointed to irregularities in the manner in which first information reports 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.