New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Delhi Police Commissioner to ensure proper and adequate security at Patiala House court complex where JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, charged with sedition, is to be produced before a metropolitan magistrate.
The apex court ordered that there will be restricted entry of people which will include the lawyers for the accused and prosecution, in the court room during the proceedings relating to the remand of Kanhaiya whose extended police custody of two days is expiring today.
Besides the presence of lawyers of both sides, the bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar and A M Sapre said that the two family members of the accused, if present, will be allowed in the court room, otherwise one faculty member of JNU and a student would be allowed on behalf of the accused. The bench also restricted the entry of media persons inside the court room during the proceeding by limiting it to five journalists.
It said that 25 journalists would be allowed to enter the compound and all the entries would be allowed only after proper identification and verification. The apex court asked the Delhi High Court Registrar General to be present in the Patiala House court complex for verification of people or group of people who have been allowed access to the court room and its compound. It, however, said that the directions given by it were limited to only today.
The bench was informed that administrative committee of the Delhi High Court will meet at 2 PM today to analyse and peruse the report of the District Judge who was asked to prepare the account of the incident that had taken place on February 15 at the Patiala House court where the lawyers had thrashed students, teachers and journalists who were present in connection with the Kanhaiya Kumar case.
The bench condemned the February 15 incident, saying it is not "appreciable". "Whatever has happened is condemnable and not appreciated. The issue of security in the court premises has to be looked into," it said and added that it was inclined to direct the Delhi Police Commissioner to take appropriate measures to maintain law and order situation.
Before the passing of the order, there was a little short of surcharged atmosphere in the jam-packed court room where an advocate even resorted to shouting. The bench wanted him to come forward, but he walked out.
However, the security personnel brought him after sometime and the bench, after reprimanding him, accepted his unconditional apology for his behaviour.
Senior advocate Ajit Sinha, representing Delhi Police, said that the February 15 incident was unfortunate and he had instructions in this regard to make before the court. Sinha told the bench that today's proceedings will be held in a peaceful manner and he gave the details about the security arrangement which will comprise personnel of CRPF, Delhi Police ACPs and SHOs of the particular police station. He said each and every entry to the court complex is checked and action has been taken on the February 15 incident.
At the outset, senior advocates KTS Tulsi, Raju Ramachandran, Rajeev Dhavan and others assailed the February 15 incident and blamed the police for it. During the hearing, when they questioned the role of police, the bench said, "There is no need to play a blame game as it is not going to help anybody." It further said there was a need for moderation in every section of the society.
The bench did not allow the advocates opposing Kanhaiya's petition to repeat some of the so-called anti-national slogans raised at the JNU campus by some of the people during at an event.
The bench observed, "All of us are patriotic. Nobody is demeaning the motherland. But no one can be allowed to take the law in their own hand."
The plea seeking fair trial in Kahnhaiya's case was filed in the Supreme Court yesterday by JNU alumnus N D Jaiprakash complaining of inaction of police against those involved in thrashing journalists, students and teachers in the trial court.
The petitioner, who was also hurt in the violence, had alleged that police were a "mute spectator to this brazen display of violence and brute force being perpetrated on innocent persons" who had gathered in the court premises. "This petition merely seeks to assure safety of the accused, their relatives, friends, lawyers and journalists while discharging their legal as well as professional obligations," the plea had said, adding that "the surcharged and vicious atmosphere" in the court premises would come in the way of the fundamental right of the accused to a fair trial.
The petitioner had urged the apex court that necessary directions have to be passed to the Centre and Delhi Police as a congenial atmosphere was imperative for a fair and impartial judicial proceeding, which is a fundamental right of every person under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The petition has also sought the safeguarding of the CCTV footage in and around the Metropolitan Magistrate's court, which may be used as evidence in any further proceedings in the matter.
It said the violence initially broke out inside the court and, thereafter, spilled over in the adjacent areas of the court complex as people started running to save themselves from the brutality of lawyers and outsiders which included several politicians.
The plea said that the incident raised serious threat to life of the accused and the atmosphere was so surcharged that even women journalists were not spared and not permitted to discharge their journalistic duty and able to report the events as witnessed by them directly.