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Posted at: Aug 29, 2017, 12:27 AM; last updated: Aug 29, 2017, 1:37 AM (IST)

Is it not contempt of court?

The High Court’s observations show that the actions of the Haryana Government were in clear violation of its directions. There is no need to further probe the conduct of the top officials while action against their lower-level counterparts is totally out of place.
Is it not contempt of court?
FIXING BLAME: The enormity of dereliction is such that the responsibility lies with the highest echelons.

Jagdeep S. Chhokar

Honourable Acting Chief Justice Surinder Singh Saron, Honourable Justice Surya Kant, and Honourable Justice Avneesh Jhingan,

At the outset, let me express my deep gratitude and appreciation for your orders dated August 24, 25, and 26, 2017 in CWP No. 19086 of 2017, Ravinder Singh Dhull v. State of Haryana & others. The concern that you have shown for safeguarding public interest and protecting the Constitution of India, is admirable. I am not being presumptuous in saying so but I know I speak for some people I know, and a lot of people whom I do not know but whom I believe agree with me.

In this context, I would like to bring to your kind attention that in your order dated August 25, 2017, inter alia, it was said that:

“In the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, we direct that:-

  • All parties and every section of the society should maintain peace and harmony;
  • In case anybody indulges in any kind of violence, arson, loot, etc., he or they should be dealt with firmly by use of force, if necessary;
  • The police force and paramilitary forces would have free-hand to deal with the situation wherever and whenever required against any individual or any section of the society or organisation;
  • In case of need, the Army shall be deployed and made operational.
  • he police force shall make arrangements forthwith for capturing every moment of untoward situation through video-graphy by using video-cameras. Those who are indulging in any kind of violence, arson or breach of peace etc. shall be video-graphed and an FIR shall be registered against him/them;
  • In case any politician or anybody else including Ministers interferes in the enforcement of law, FIR be registered against him/them. In case of failure on the part of the police officer to register an FIR, similar action would be called against him;
  • No politician, leader, social-worker, spiritual leader, religious leader or any such organization shall make any provocative speech or statement, which may have the tendency to affect public order.
This order shall be applicable in the States of Haryana and Punjab as also Union Territory, Chandigarh.”

Further, your order dated August 25, 2017, inter alia, stated that:

“Mr. Baldev Raj Mahajan, Advocate General, Haryana has submitted that there have been thirty-two casualties in the State of Haryana out of which twenty-eight are in Panchkula. It is submitted that out of twenty-eight dead bodies, one has been identified. The remaining so far remained unidentified.”

The admission by the Advocate General, Haryana, mentioned in the order of August 25, 2017, clearly shows that the directions (ii), (iii), (iv), and (v) of the order dated August 24, 2017, were not followed. This itself amounts to ‘contempt of court’ as defined in section 2(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, which reads as follows, “‘civil contempt’ means wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a court;…”

While I could not locate the official record of the hearings held on Saturday, August 26, 2017, for the same case, reports in several newspapers reported the following:

“the Punjab and Haryana High Court today categorically said the Bench was misled by the state functionaries ahead of the verdict in the rape case against dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim.” 

“A Full Bench of Acting Chief Justice Surinder Singh Saron, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Avneesh Jhingan said: ‘There was a sea difference between the administrative and political decisions, and the administrative decisions were paralysed because of the political decisions.’”

“Addressing Haryana Advocate-General BR Mahajan, the Bench said: ‘You have suspended the DCP… Do you think he committed the mistake? Was he not asked to do it? It has strengthened our belief that it is all political. You are compelling us to go into a deeper probe to ascertain it was done on instructions of which officer.’”

“There is politics surrounding it. Just to allure the vote bank, you allowed people to gather. A probe will expose it’. As the Bench convened for assessing law and order during a special hearing on a court holiday, it noted: ‘The CM was also the Home Minister. Why could you not prevent the crowd from gathering for the last seven days? They were all outsiders, but were allowed to enter Panchkula, stay there and occupy public places…. Law and order will be maintained at all costs and no one will be allowed to interfere. Those failing to perform are answerable to the people and the court.’”

The reported observations of the Honourable Court during the hearing on August 26, 2017, show that the actions of the State of Haryana were in clear violation of the directions (vi) and (vii) of the Honourable High Court issued on August 25, 2017. This is also a clear case of contempt of court under section 2(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

In view of what is stated above, particularly in paragraphs 4 and 6, I would urge to Honourable Court to institute contempt of court proceedings against the following officials of the Haryana Government:

  • The Director General of Police
  • The Home Secretary
  • The Chief Secretary
  • The Home Minister and the Chief Minister (since the same person holds both positions).
Holding more enquiries is neither required nor necessary as the facts of the case are quite clear and are in the public domain. As the Hon’ble Court has very correctly observed taking actions such as suspension against lower level officials such the DCP are completely out of place. Dereliction of duty was happening well before the specific days of the horrible events when enormous crowds were wilfully allowed to gather despite there being public knowledge of what might happen. And the enormity of this dereliction is such that the responsibility lies at the highest echelons of administration.

I request the Hon’ble Court to consider this letter as a Public Interest Litigation, if considered necessary, in the glorious tradition started by Hon’ble Justice P.N. Bhagwati and Hon’ble Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer.

Yours truly,

JS Chhokar

The writer is a former Director-in-charge, IIM, Ahmedabad


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