The ominous midnight knock : The Tribune India


The ominous midnight knock

Judge was shifted overnight to prevent action against BJP leaders

The ominous midnight knock

Pick & Choose: In deference to the party in power, the police stated in court that the time was not ‘appropriate’ to file FIRs against BJP leaders for their hate speech.

Julio Ribeiro

I READ in a leading English daily Prakash Singh’s views on the Delhi Police’s investigation and the validity of my letter to Delhi’s Police Commissioner cautioning him against one-sided inquiries. Except that Prakash felt that the Delhi Police must have valid evidence to prove its charge of conspiracy against the anti-CAA protesters, his views were not radically different from mine.

Prakash is an old friend. There was a time when we were in touch over the phone almost every fortnight or so. I pointed out to him that my doubts emanated from the reluctance of the police to proceed against Anurag Thakur, Kapil Mishra and Parvesh Verma, though the evidence against them was openly available and known to all. Prakash had also chided the Delhi Police for this gaping default in fair and just policing. Both Prakash and I agreed about the source and the reason for this glaring default.

If any evidence was required to prove the link-up between the party in power and a politicised police force, the readers should harken back to February 26, when the ‘midnight knock’ prevented Justice Muralidhar of the Delhi High Court from enforcing his directions to the Police Commissioner to register FIRs against the three BJP leaders, one of them a Minister of State in the Central government, and report compliance by the morning of February 27.

On the night of February 26-27, the judge with a conscience was asked to step down and proceed on transfer to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Such haste had never been experienced by other judges in the history of the high court and, I dare say, other high courts in the country. Judges should not be treated as cavalierly as governments treat other bureaucrats.

I admit that police officials always find it difficult to sift the truth from the evidence they collect. Of the 753 cases registered, the police will have one community pitted against the other in 752 cases. Who is telling the truth and who the lies? In today’s technological age, the police should be able to provide scientific buttress to oral statements. The courts would find it easier to decide.

It is in the 753rd case, the conspiracy case, that politics is clearly apparent. There will be IPS officers who support the Delhi CP’s assertions on the veracity of the evidence. It is their right to have an opinion that is contrary to mine. But there are serious doubts on the intentions of the police in this case which many other officers do have. My friend, a former LG of Delhi to whom the Delhi Police Commissioner reported, wrote to Neeraj Kumar, who was CP at the time of his stewardship, ‘My point is that the CP must not be seen bending to external expectations or pressures and must retain the confidence of all communities regarding their even-handedness and independence in administering law and order in the National Capital’. A very respected Police Commissioner of Delhi also wrote to the present incumbent in the same vein! If the Delhi Police had complied with the court’s order to register FIRs against the BJP leaders who were on record spewing hate, it would have been a slap in the face of the government. In deference to the party in power, the police had stated in court that the time was not ‘appropriate’ to file such FIRs. The judge did not accept this strange concept of law propounded by the police!

My brother officers in the IPS, both serving and retired, can be categorised into four separate baskets: Those who like to keep away from taking stands even if they think that the stand is just and fair.

Those who keep away from contentious issues and avoid thinking of the pros and the cons of issues, particularly issues that can colour politics.

Those who do not hesitate to call out a wrong even if they thereby become unpopular with a segment of their own breed and persona non grata with the powers that be, and those who for convenience sake or, more likely, for their own profit support wrongdoings.

There is a place for all these categories in a democracy. They each have a right to think and act according to his or her conscience, even if they fall in the fourth category where acquiring a conscience is considered a luxury.

My argument is that the machinations of the government in shifting Justice Muralidhar at the dead of night to save the Delhi Police from complying with the orders of the judge to file FIRs against Anurag Thakur, Kapil Mishra and Parvesh Verma clearly prove that the police was carrying out the wishes of the political executive in not arresting and arraigning before the Bench the hate-mongers whose rants and raves instigated their followers to riot.

The patent injustice of Delhi Police’s approach is what riles the conscience of this old policeman.

Tribune Shorts

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