Senior advocate Indira Jaising on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that the city police had acted with “sheer vindictiveness” by resorting to violence against the students of Jamia Millia Islamia university in December, Live Law reported. She said the use of excessive force by the police resulted in an act of “unconscionable conduct”.

Violence had erupted in the area around Jamia Millia Islamia University during an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest march by the students on December 15. The Delhi Police have been accused of using excessive force to quell the demonstrations and of storming into the campus.

The police, however, claimed their action was justified as the protestors had allegedly injured their personnel and set buses on fire. Following the violence, several videos purportedly show students pelting stones, and the police entering the university, allegedly assaulting students.

Jaising, who was appearing before the court in a plea seeking an independent investigation into the alleged police brutality at the campus, said the police had violated the principle of using minimum force that day.

“The use of force was not with the intention to disperse crowd, as police chased students who had taken shelter in libraries, hostel rooms and toilets,” she said “Despite the provocations, police were only supposed to use minimum possible force. This principle was violated when they barged into the campus.”

The advocate added that the police had entered the campus without the permission of the university vice-chancellor. “Where is the demand from the police to enter the University campus?” she said. “They had the loudspeakers, phones, walkie-talkie, but they didn’t make a demand for entering the campus. When no student was arrested, what was the purpose of entering the campus? The intention was sheer vindictiveness, teaching a lesson to the students with a danda”.

Jaising cited Section 124 of the Delhi Police Act to argue that there is no impunity provided to the police for using disproportionate force or causing unreasonable violence. She said that an independent inquiry headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court was needed.

Earlier, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves told the High Court that the police investigation into the matter was one-sided. “How can we expect the police to conduct fair enquiry when their chargesheet states that not a single police officer carried out any illegal activity during the violence?” he asked

Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for another petitioner, also sought an independent inquiry into the matter, saying “the police cannot be a judge in their own cause”.

Advocate Mehmood Pracha, appearing for another petitioner, submitted that police have committed illegal acts by acting beyond the protocols. He alleged the police was withholding materials from the petitioners, by submitting them in sealed cover before the court. “The entire exercise of the police needs to be seen from the prism from an intention to suppress dissent,” he said.

The High Court will continue hearing the matter on Thursday.