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Delhi riot cases too moving Gujarat way


Soon after the racial attacks that flared up in eastern areas of capital Delhi on 23 February,  it transpired that the sangh parivar outfits and leaders were the ones who ignited the riot and led the violence.  Fact-finding missions one after the other who visited the affected areas,  have corroborated this finding. The reports that came out after enquiries,  including that of Delhi Minority Commission,  did reveal the identity of those who pulled the strings of the riots and made capital out of them.

In the process,  the stances of Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party and its chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in the matter,  had also come into focus.  While the riot was burning, Kejriwal's reluctance to raise a hand against it or to visit the riot-affected areas had come in for scathing criticism.  Now, the sangh parivar is paving the way to subverting the case using its power at the Centre in favour of its own workers and local leaders  who ran on rampage during the violence.   What the Delhi police, under the control of the central government, did was to mix up the communal violence of February with  the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that had started months ago in Delhi.  Through this, the police was trying to exonerate those who were cited by quarters from the media to the judiciary , as  who perpetrated the violence with hate speeches. The police at the same time has been rounding up and torturing youth, especially Muslim student leaders,  who led the anti-CAA protests.

The sangh parivar is now busy using tactics of steering the legal battles connected with the riots in its direction.   The move of Delhi's Lieutenant Governor (LG) Anil Baijal to appoint as special prosecutors their favourites to argue for Delhi police in the Delhi riot case, is part of this.   This has finally become a bone of contention between Kejriwal's AAP government and the LG.   It is as part of it that AAP leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh issued a statement that the Delhi riot was a result of BJP's conspiracy which had started even before the last Delhi assembly elections.

The tussle between Delhi chief minister and LG is not anything new.  In Kejriwal's previous term , this tug-of-war had  reached a stage of Kejriwal sitting in satyagraha at the door of the LG.  In the new dispute,  the contention of Anil Baijal is that he is the authority to appoint the prosecutors in the legal procedures about the racial attacks case,  since the police in Delhi is under the control of the central Ministry of Home Affairs who are the party to the case.  In the first case related to the violence of 26 February, which was filed by social activist Harsh Mander,  demanding that FIR's should be registered against tree BJP leaders,  the counsel who appeared for Delhi police and Delhi government  was Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.  He informed that he was commissioned by Delhi Lieutenant Governor.  However,  Delhi government's standing counsel Rahul Mehra,  argued that the LG does not have such powers without seeking the advice of the state cabinet.

The Delhi High Court took a position on this that at this stage in view of the seriousness of the case,  it was not considering the merits of that step and so allowed Tushar Mehta to argue.   The next day,  though the same argument was raised before the chief justice,  he adjourned the case to April without saying anything on this.  With this,  Delhi police proceeded further with the arrests of anti-CAA protesters.  In the actions regarding their bail and remand also,  it was the Solicitor General and other lawyers appointed by LG who appeared in the court.  Thereafter neither Kejriwal nor the government was found to show any express disagreement on this.  Not only that,  on 29 May the step of appointing Tusha Mehta,  Additional Solicitors Aman Lekhi,  Maninder Acharya,  plus Amit Mahajan and Rajat Nair as special public prosecutors (SPP),  was accepted by Delhi home minister Satyendra Jain.  However, the recent ruckus has arisen with the appointment of six counsels in addition to the named five.

The contention of AAP is that any decision in this matter should be taken only after considering the recommendation of the state government. The counter contention is that since Delhi is only a state with special status,  it does not have independent powers in the subjects of police and law and order.  At the same time,  since appointment of counsels in criminal cases comes under the Concurrent List of the Constitution,  there is also a provision that the state should be duly consulted.  In spite of LG apprising the government of the matter,  there was no response from the government, and so the LG wrote to chief minister Kejriwal and informed the minister in charge of home affiars, Manish Sisodia.  But the latter expressed disagreement over this.   It was following this that the party's MP Sanjay Saingh entered the scene with a  public attack on the BJP.

Whatever be the factors at play in the political slug-fest of Delhi,  it is clear Anil Baijal is ensuring the implementation of the sangh parivar wishes in appointing SPP's of its choice who will do the bidding of the parivar.   Earlier in Gujarat,  those led by the sangh parivar were appointed prosecutors for the conduct of genocide cases.   Political observers who had followed the Gujarat genocide case,  point out that what is going to happen in Delhi is the same usurpation of actions so as to make law  take a course of its liking, and the LG's hoisting of prosecutors is a proof of that. And this indeed should cause concerns that beyond the mere haggling for power,  there are larger goals behind this move of the BJP.

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