Supreme Court to confine hearing to violent incidents at Patiala House

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday made it clear that it would confine itself to the violence in Patiala House court complex on February 15 and 17 in which JNU students, teachers and journalists
supreme court to confine hearing to violent...
PTI February 22, 2016 22:27 IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday made it clear that it would confine itself to the violence in Patiala House court complex on February 15 and 17 in which JNU students, teachers and journalists were attacked during the hearing of sedition case against JNUSU head Kanhaiya Kumar.

"We are not concerned with other incidents. We are only concerned with the episode that had happened on February 15 and 17," a bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar and A M Sapre said when a Karkardooma District bar body sought itself to be impleaded as a party.

The terse response of the court came when the counsel for the district bar body referred to the cultural programme at JNU campus alleging that anti-national slogans were raised there and the execution of Parliament Attack case convict Afzal Guru was termed as "judicial killing".

"It is not the subject matter of the case here. We are sorry," the bench said, adding, "You (Karkardooma bar lawyer) come from different bar and you are not an interested party." The bench also said it was not concerned with subsequent events and will not broaden the scope of hearing.

R P Luthra, a lawyer who had sought intervention in the case, said the same Patiala House Court has heard and decided the bail plea of former Delhi University lecturer SAR Gilani and that an atmosphere has been "created".

"Do not settle personal score," the bench asked Luthra.

During the hearing, the bench perused reports filed by Delhi Police, Bar Council of India, Delhi High Court Registry and the six-member lawyers' panel formed by the apex court. "There are allegations and counter-allegations" and the reports be exchanged and the objections be filed, before the matter is heard on March 10, the bench said.

Apex bar body Bar Council of India (BCI) sought the court's response as to whether it should proceed with the proposed inquiry against lawyers who had allegedly participated in the violent incidents in Patiala House on February 15 and 17 when jailed Kanhaiya Kumar was being produced in connection with the sedition case.

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"Let all the concerned receive reports. Today we are not saying anything on it," the bench said. The BCI said it has decided to set up a three-member panel which would also have a former Judge of the High Court and senior advocate M N Krishnamani.

During the hearing, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre and Delhi Police, asked the court that contents of the reports should not be made public for the time being as it may influence the hearing of the bail application of the accused, which will come up before the Delhi High Court tomorrow.

Senior advocate Ajit Kumar Sinha, representing Delhi Police, also endorsed the view of the law officers. Referring to various reports, the bench said there were conflicting views in them and "let all the parties examine all the reports" before any further hearing.

The bench, in its order, referred to the names of lawyers who would be getting various reports in the matter and will be entitled to file their objections, if any.

The apex court had on February 19 transferred Kanhaiya's bail plea to Delhi High Court while declining to entertain the petition, saying its direct intervention will be a dangerous proposition. Kanhaiya's lawyers then immediately moved the high court with the bail petition.

It had also asked the high court to expeditiously deal with the matter. While transferring the bail plea, the bench had taken an assurance from Solicitor General that in the "prevailing extraordinary situation" pertaining to this matter, the Government and the Delhi Police Commissioner would provide adequate safety and security to the accused and the stream of lawyers who will be appearing in the high court.

It was not in agreement with the arguments advanced by a battery of senior advocates, including Soli Sorabjee, Raju Ramachandran and Rajeev Dhawan that an extraordinary law and order situation, threat to life of the accused and his counsel, hostile environment at the lower court and the simmering situation had compelled them to rush directly to it.

Kanhaiya had on February 18 directly moved the apex court seeking bail while claiming threat to his life in Tihar jail. In the petition, filed through advocate Anindita Pujari, Kanhaiya, who was also attacked in Patiala House court complex by a group of lawyers, has claimed innocence.

Kanhaiya was arrested on February 12 on sedition charge following a controversial event at JNU campus where anti-India slogans were allegedly raised.

The student leader was produced in the court on February 17 after expiry of his police custody, where a group of men dressed in lawyers' robes unleashed a brazen attack on him and others including journalists present there.

Kanhaiya had sought the apex court's intervention, saying no purpose would be served by keeping him in the jail and the police was finding it difficult to even produce him in the court.

 
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