Delhi Cabinet Rejects Police’s Panel of Lawyers For Riot Cases

The Delhi Cabinet has directed the Home Department to form an impartial panel of the best lawyers in the country.

2 min read
The violence-hit areas in northeast Delhi. Image for representational purpose.

Following a meeting, the Delhi Cabinet on Tuesday, 28 July, rejected the panel of lawyers proposed by the Delhi Police for appearing in cases related to the northeast Delhi violence this past February.

Observing that courts had raised “serious questions on fairness of investigations” done by the Delhi Police, the Cabinet observed that, “a free and fair trial of these cases would not be possible by a panel of lawyers selected by the Delhi Police itself.”

It further directed the Home Department to form a panel of best possible lawyers in the country to represent these cases, noting that the “investigating agency should not be allowed to decide the lawyers.”

As per a press release from the Delhi Chief Minister’s Office, the Cabinet also noted that Hon'ble Justice Suresh Kumar of the Hon'ble Delhi HC has earlier observed that the Delhi Police is taking the entire judicial system on a ride on the northeast Delhi violence cases.

The Delhi Government has rejected the suggestions by the Delhi Police for a panel of lawyers to represent them in the cases, including the appointment of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, and Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi as special counsels.

The Delhi Police's suggestions had been endorsed by Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal, but the Delhi Cabinet has asserted what it believes is its power, under the special constitutional scheme for Delhi, to take its own position on the appointment of lawyers for these cases.

The Arvind Kejriwal cabinet is placing reliance on the Supreme Court’s judgments on the Delhi vs Centre issues, to say that the appointment of prosecutors for criminal cases in Delhi rests with them, rather than with the Lieutenant Governor.

The press release also stated that it was “unfortunate the way Honorable L-G has been repeatedly interfering in the decision of appointment of the panel of lawyers” whereas he can reportedly only exercise over decisions of the government in “rarest of rare” cases.

On 19 July, AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh had launched a broadside against the BJP, saying at a press conference that the violence which rocked northeast Delhi in February was “engineered” by the BJP.

Singh also claimed that this was why the BJP and Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal (an appointee of the Centre) were trying to get their own chosen lawyers appointed to represent the Delhi Police and act as prosecutors on the cases relating to the violence.

(With inputs from IANS)

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