Recommendation of SPPs for north east Delhi riots cases was not binding: Police tells HC

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New Delhi, Jan 12 (PTI) The police on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that its recommendations for appointing certain lawyers, including Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, as special public prosecutors in cases pertaining to north-east Delhi riots in February last year was not binding on the AAP government.

The submission was made by Delhi Police before Justice Prathiba M Singh during the brief hearing of a plea by the Delhi Prosecutors Welfare Association (DPWA) challenging appointment of the special public prosecutors (SPPs) in the riots cases.

Additional standing counsel Gautam Narayan, who appeared for the AAP government, told the court that the list sent by the police was initially rejected by the Delhi government which had forwarded its own list of SPPs.

However, the Lt Governor intervened in the matter and did not agree with the Delhi government's list and in view of the difference of opinion the matter was referred to the President of India who approved the list sent by the police, he told the court.

The Delhi government only issued the notification informing about the appointment of the SPPs and it has not appointed them, he said.

Justice Singh, after the brief hearing, was of the view that the petition appeared to be in the nature of a PIL and directed the high court registry to list it before the appropriate bench on March 15.

On November 9 last year, the high court had issued notice to the Centre and Delhi government seeking their stand on the plea of DPWA, represented by advocates Kushal Kumar, Aditya and Akashdep Gupta.

DPWA, in its plea, has questioned how SPPs can be appointed at the behest of the police.

It has contended that the prosecution has to be independent and insulated from the police and therefore, the SPPs cannot be appointed at the behest of the investigating agency.

DPWA has sought quashing of Delhi government's June 24, 2020 notification appointing the SPPs, including Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, on the grounds that it was issued on police recommendations, in violation of the scheme provided under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

It has sought that the appointment of independent SPPs be done by 'respecting the principles of fairness and impartiality'.

The plea has claimed that the appointment of the 11 SPPs, including the Solicitor General, on the recommendations of Delhi Police 'is a divergence from the principles of free and fair trial which is part of Article 21 of the Constitution'.

Communal clashes had broken out in north-east Delhi on February 24,2020 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured. PTI HMP RKS RKS