The Delhi High Court on Tuesday observed that the city’s police’s status report detailing the investigation undertaken into the death of a 23-year-old Muslim man during the 2020 communal violence had nothing substantial in it, PTI reported.
Fifty-three people were killed and hundreds more injured in the rioting that broke out in North East Delhi between February 23 and February 26, 2020, after protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act triggered a violent backlash against Muslim protestors. At least 38 of those killed were Muslim.
A video shot on February 24, 2020, showed policemen beating up the man named Faizan, and four others, while ordering them to sing the national anthem and chant “Vande Mataram”. Faizan was then allegedly detained at the Jyoti Nagar police station. He died soon after he was released.
The police submitted a status report in a sealed cover on its investigation into the case.
Faizan’s mother Kismatun had filed a plea before the High Court seeking an inquiry by a Special Investigation Team. Kismatun claimed that the police had illegally detained her son and denied him critical health care due to which he succumbed to his injuries.
On Tuesday, Justice Mukta Gupta of the High Court said that the status report submitted by the police was “neither here nor there”.
The court asked the police to share the status report with the counsel for the petitioner, Vrinda Grover, after she told the judge that it was filed in a sealed cover even though there was no such order.
The police claimed that it submitted the report in a sealed cover as it had details of the investigation and the accused persons in the case.
Justice Gupta asked the police to explain why Faizan’s post-mortem report recorded 20 injuries, while a medical report before his detention in police custody had noted only three injuries.
The court also questioned why the police had not recorded the statements of the four others who were beaten up, and were witnesses. “In this case, you [police] have not taken the help of eyewitnesses but gone all over the world,” the judge said.
In an hearing last year, the police had told the court that they were not able to identify the officers in the video footage of the incident, as they were wearing helmets and were not wearing name plates. The police also said that they had interrogated a head constable in the matter.
Grover told the court that Faizan, after being beaten up, was kept overnight in “illegal detention” when he was about to die, according to Live Law. She alleged that the police did not seal documents such as the duty roster of the Jyoti Nagar police station and did not carry out any questioning on who was on duty that night.
Grover also said that the police did not provide Faizan any medical treatment, and he died after being released.
The High Court had criticised the police for its handling of the case on January 12 as well. Justice Gupta questioned why the police had been able to identify just one person in two years.
The judge also asked why the police did not trace the origin of the video. Pankaj Arora, the investigating officer in the case, replied that they had found that the video had been filmed on the head constable’s phone, but during inquiry, he denied shooting it.
The case will be heard next on March 15.