New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday said AAP activists protesting against police inaction in a poor woman's rape were "subjected to excessive use of force and abuses" which was "not at all justified".
The court said they were also deprived of their "fundamental right to a life of dignity".
Having strongly indicted the Delhi police for its excessive and unjustified use of force against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) activists, an apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi, Justice Shiva Kirti Singh and Justice C. Nagappan asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to inquire into the incident and police action.
"The complaint of the petitioners as made before this court regarding violation of their fundamental right to life and liberty shall be inquired into by the National Human Rights Commission expeditiously," said one of the three directions by the court.
The Commission, the court said "shall take further required steps and action as per law after concluding the inquiry/investigation so that persons(s) found guilty may be subjected to required penalty according to law, without undue delay."
The investigation into the FIR lodged by the police on account of alleged rioting would be carried out by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the Delhi Police Commissioner by his Oct 31 order and personnel of Gokulpuri police station would stay away from it.
Having directed the probe by the NHRC, Justice Shiva Kirti Singh speaking for the bench said, petitioner Beenu Rawat and others were "subjected to excessive use of force and abuses, etc. and that the force used was not at all justified and hence they have been deprived of their fundamental right to a life of dignity."
Rejecting the police version that protestors had indulged in rioting and damaged public property, the court said the video footage recorded by police "does not show acts of rioting or any arms or brickbats in the hands of the protestors and the recording was stopped as soon as police started using lathis upon the protestors."
Having noted this, the court said, "we are left with no option but to hold, at least prima facie, that in the incident in question, peaceful protestors were subjected to beating by lathis, etc. by the police force which included policemen from the police station concerned as well as force called from adjoining police station."
Justifying the inquiry by the NHRC into the violation of the fundamental right to life and liberty of AAP activists, the judgment said, "If the state had itself suggested names of the persons who could constitute SIT for the purpose, the matter would have been different and we could have considered to direct for formation of such a team by the state by selecting persons from the names suggested by the parties."
But in the absence of such option, the judgment said, "We direct the National Human Rights Commission to inquire into the complaint of the petitioners regarding violation of their fundamental rights particularly one under Article 21 of the Constitution of India."
The entire incident involving AAP activists relates to June 19 at Gokulpuri police station in Delhi when AAP volunteers were protesting non-registration of FIR of an alleged rape of a poor woman by two persons in Bhagirathi Vihar.