SC rejects Delhi police plea against HC order in CS assault case, 'it may be a hot potato politically but legally nothing'

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New Delhi, Jul 1 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the Delhi police plea against the order of the high court here in the chief secretary assault case, saying it may be a “hot potato” politically but legally was nothing.

The Delhi High Court in its order had asked the Delhi police to supply the copy of the statement of a witness to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia and others in the case relating to the alleged assault on the then chief secretary Anshu Prakash in 2018.

A bench of justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah said the high court's order supports liberty and “we support it” and moreover, as per the basic principle of natural justice, there must be a robust common sense that the accused must have the copy of the witness statement.

It rejected the vehement submissions of Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, appearing for the Delhi police, that if the high court order was not set aside, it will have some serious repercussions.

“Not worth it. It may be a politically hot potato, but in a legal sense it is nothing at all,” the apex court said.

As the hearing commenced, the bench said the police must abide by the duty of being fair and the copy of the statement must be given to the accused.

“It is a statement of a person which was there in the case diary,” the bench said, adding that such a statement must be given.

The criminal case relates to the alleged assault on Prakash during a meeting at Kejriwal's official residence on February 19, 2018 and besides the chief minister and his deputy, 11 AAP MLAs were also made accused in the case.

Kejriwal, Sisodia and nine other AAP MLAs were granted bail in October 2018.

The other two MLAs Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal were granted bail earlier by the high court. The alleged assault had triggered a bitter tussle between the Delhi government and its bureaucrats.

The Delhi High Court on October 21 last year set aside a sessions court order rejecting the plea of Kejriwal and Sisodia to provide the statement of V K Jain, a witness in the case who was also an adviser to the Chief Minister, saying the police cannot pick and choose what evidence will be placed on record.

The high court had set aside the order of the trial court and had directed the trial judge to consider the plea of the accused and grant them the access to a copy of the statement of Jain at the time of passing the order on charge.

'The investigating agency has no power to appreciate the evidence, it rests with the court. Consequently, the impugned order is hereby set aside,” the high court had said.

Kejriwal and Sisodia, in their plea before the high court, had alleged that the prosecution withheld Jain's statement recorded on February 21, 2018 as it did not suit the prosecution case and helped in falsely implicating the petitioners.

They had contended that a copy of the statement ought to have been supplied to them. PTI SJK MNL ABA SA GSN GSN GSN

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