We were abused, called Pakistan agents: senior lawyers tell SC
Deccan Chronicle | DC Correspondent
Complete breakdown of law and order, atmosphere of fear and terror prevailed at Patiala House court, says SC panel.
JNU students agitating for the release of the Students Union President Kanhaiya Kumar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. (Photo: PTI)
New Delhi: A team of senior lawyers set up by the Supreme Court to report to it on the situation in the Patiala House courts where JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar was produced today, said there was "complete breakdown of law and order" and an atmosphere of "fear and terror" prevailed there and the police did not act.
"There is a serious threat to the life and safety of the accused (Kanhaiya) and this police will be unable to save him," the six-member team of lawyers said giving an oral ground report to the apex court.
They said they too bore the brunt of the people in lawyers' robes who gave them "the choicest of the abuses and tried to hurt them by throwing sharp-edged flower pots and water bottles".
Stating that visuals of the events were filmed by one of them using mobile phone, the lawyers said "this particular atmosphere is unprecedented. Police did not do their job."
"The crowd broke the cordon and threw water bottles and sharp-edged flower pots on us. This is broadly the report," they said, adding that
The committee, comprising senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Rajeev Dhawan, Dushyant Dave, Harin Rawal, Ajit K Sinha and advocates Prashant Bhushan and A D N Rao, had rushed to the Patiala House court after being directed by the apex court.
It was Dhawan, who started giving an account of the panel's visit to the Patiala House Court to a bench of Justices J Chelameswar and A M Sapre, saying he had never seen the crowd of such a proportion as witnessed there and termed it as "an unprecedented situation".
Dave joined him saying the atmosphere was surcharged and of "fear and terror".
Dhawan said they had spoken to Kanhaiya Kumar who said he was attacked and beaten on his way to the court room and inside, a man in dark spectacles, not in lawyers' dress, had gone near the accused, asked him something and hit him. This man also sat in the court room later, he added.
"How did he get inside the court room when there was a specific order of this court? When the accused asked the police to stop him, no action was taken," Dhawan said.
The panel claimed they bore the brunt of people in lawyers' robes who hurled abuses and expletives at them.
"This particular atmosphere is unprecedented. Police did not do their job. The crowd broke the cordon and threw water bottles and sharp-edged flower pots on us. This is broadly the report," they said, adding that "there is a serious threat to the life and safety of the accused and this police will be unable to save him."
Inside the courtroom, the judges said, "We also direct that Commissioner of Police shall take necessary steps to ensure the safety of the accused until he is produced next before the trial court."
"We may place on record that it is reported today by the members of the Committee that the accused was manhandled while he was produced before the Court today. We therefore make it clear that the responsibility is exclusively is that of the Commissioner of Police, Delhi to ensure the safety of the accused," it said and posted the matter for hearing tomorrow.
Kumar, who is facing sedition charge for allegedly raising anti-India slogans, has been remanded in judicial custody by a Metropolitan court till March 2.
The top court had earlier in the day issued directions to Police and the Delhi High Court Registry in the morning to ensure safe and smooth proceedings in the lower court but again had to step in the afternoon after it was told that violence had erupted.
The team of six senior lawyers comprising Kapil Sibal, Rajeev Dhavan, Dushyant Dave, A D N Rao, Ajit K Sinha and Harin Raval, was rushed by the bench in police protection to the lower court to assess the ground situation.
Dhawan said the team also spoke to area DCP Jatin Narwal, who was present in the court room as to why the man was not stopped, the officer had no answer even when he was specifically told about the apex court order passed in the morning.
"Each one of us told him how that person entered the court room and how he pushed the accused," Dhawan said, adding that the accused was beaten outside and pushed inside the court room.
"We need a report on how this person was allowed in the court room," the senior lawyer said.
Dhawan said as they were entering the court with police escort, Sibal was abused and flower pots etc were thrown on them and slogans like "Ye Pakistan ke dalle hain" (They are Pakistani agents) raised.
He even mentioned an expletive in Hindi saying he was sorry to mention it but "there were all kinds of abuses for them".
While Sibal, Dhawan and Bhushan had appeared for the petitioner N D Jayaprakash, an alumnus of JNU, who filed the petition against police inaction on February 15 and seeking safety of Kanhaiya Kumar, charged with the offence of sedition, Sinha had represented the Delhi Police and its Commissioner B S Bassi in the matter.
Rawal, former Additional Solicitor General during the UPA government, and Rao were watching the proceedings and had agreed to be part of the panel.
Dhawan said though the team was under the security cover, the police cordon was broken and "Rawal has recorded everything on his mobile camera."
He also said he spoke to Registrar General of Delhi High Court who was asked by the bench's order to be present in Patiala House Court and had asked the DCP to arrest the man who had entered the court room unauthorisedly, but this was not done.
Dave again said, "There is a very serious threat to the safety of the accused. This police will be unable to save him. We interrogated DCP Jatin Narwal how that person came in and out of the court. The DCP didn’t have the answer."
The bench interrupted him and wanted to know from Delhi Police counsel and senior advocate Ajit K Sinha if he can find out how many officers were there in the court.
He said around 30 officers were there and the police was waiting for the accused' medical examination after which he would be taken safely.