THE Delhi High Court today issued notice to the Central Government, Delhi Police and Jamia Millia Islamia on a batch of petitions filed by students and alumni of Jamia university seeking an independent inquiry into police action against protesting students while at the same time denying a plea by them for interim protection against coercive action
The order was passed by a two-judge bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C R Hari Shankar.
The matter has now been listed for February 4, 2020, for further hearing.
Emphasizing that the Delhi police had no justification whatsoever to enter the university’s mosque, library, hostels and toilets, senior advocate Sanjay Hegde sought the setting up of an inquiry commission under the aegis of a retired judge “who is conversant with the Delhi situation and has credibility”.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising arguing on the behalf of the students and alumni of Jamia university pointed out that the “issue is how do we maintain a balance between the right to protest, free speech and maintain law and order”. “Nobody is in favour of violence,” she asserted.
Jaising also informed the court that the Supreme Court had said that the issue at hand was a matter of fact-finding, and therefore, an appropriate committee should be appointed for that purpose.
“My concerns are unregulated arrests of students. Lawyers can take care of themselves. When students got arrested, had it not been for some citizens who visited police stations at night, they would still be in (those) police stations,” Jaising said.
“Students cannot protect themselves against police brutality. There is undoubtedly beating of a severe nature. It cannot be said to be used of proportioned force,” she said.
Jaising also submitted that “there are documented cases of injuries suffered by students”, however, “no FIR has been registered against the Delhi Police”.
Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves narrated the sequence of events while submitting that unarmed students who were protesting peacefully were attacked by the Delhi police. “Students were to march to the Parliament. As they left, the police attacked …” he said.
Referring to the statement given by the Vice-Chancellor and the Proctor of the Jamia University, Gonsalves said: “You (the court) may not believe the students but you (the court) will believe the Chief Proctor”.
He sought the following relief from court:
- Medical assistance for the injured,
- Criminal proceedings against students to be kept in abeyance, and
- Preservation of CCTV footage.
Senior advocate N Hariharan submitted before the court that there were at least two medical certificates that verify that one student was shot at and that another had suffered an eye injury.
Violence against the students
In the late evening of December 15, police and security forces, in order to quell the student protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, entered the campus of Jamia university and lobbed tear gas shells. As a result of the lathi-charge, many students were injured and admitted to hospitals.
As a consequence, the Vice-Chancellor of Jamia university shut down the campus and asked the students to vacate the hostels well ahead of the scheduled break.