The Supreme Court rebuked the Delhi Police on Wednesday for failing to act “professionally” to check the violence in north-east Delhi which has left 20 people dead and scores injured. However, it refused to entertain pleas related to the riots over the new citizenship law, CAA.
The apex court lashed out at the law enforcement agencies for allowing the "instigators of violence" to get away and said they should act as per law, without waiting for somebody's nod.
"If somebody makes an inflammatory remark, police has to take action," said the court.
Though the top court did not look into applications on the violence, it said there was a need for a “conducive environment” to go into the matters related to Shaheen Bagh protests.
A bench comprising Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph said it will not expand the scope of petitions filed in connection with the protests at Shaheen Bagh, against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), by looking into the pleas on violence.
“We will not go beyond the scope of the petition before us. Several unfortunate incidents have taken place. The question before us is whether the people aggrieved can sit at a place called Shaheen Bagh. We will hear only this issue,” the bench said.
It said, “We are not going into the applications related to the issue of violence. It is for the high court to look into the matter.”
The bench said that it is not precluding anyone from availing any remedy as per law.
The bench told the court-appointed interlocutors, senior advocate Sanjay Hegde and advocate Sadhana Ramachandaran, that people at Shaheen Bagh have to come forward for the solution.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the apex court that the Delhi High Court has heard pleas connected with the violence and listed them for further hearing in the afternoon.
The death toll in north-east Delhi communal violence rose to 22 on Wednesday from 13 the day earlier.
After the applications were disposed of, there was a sharp exchange of words between the bench and the Solicitor General, when Justice Joseph said he wanted to say something on the issue of violence.
Mehta asked the bench not to make any adverse observations relating to the violence as it will demoralise the police force.
Justice Joseph said, “I will make the remarks as my loyalty is to the institution. I will fail in my duty towards the institution and as a judge, if I don't speak up my mind on the issue.”
He added, “There was a lack of professionalism on the part of the police. Unless you allow the police to act. Look at how police acts in the UK and USA. Do they require somebody's nod to act as per law? If somebody makes an inflammatory remark, police has to take action. The guidelines in the Prakash Singh judgment need to be followed.”
He said: “The police had been reluctant in implementing the Prakash Singh judgement. It can wait for any approval to let the instigators get away. Had the police acted in a professional manner, this situation would not have arisen. These things would not have happened had police not allowed instigators to get away.”
Justice Joseph further said: “Don't misunderstand me, my remarks are being made keeping in mind larger perspective.”
The bench said that it has nothing against Delhi Police but the remarks have long term implications. It also said that it was for the law enforcing administration to ensure the environment is conducive.
The bench posted the matter for hearing on March 23, saying there is a need for magnanimity and for the situation to cool down before the Shaheen Bagh issue is taken up.