The Delhi high court on Sunday ordered a judicial inquiry by one of its retired judges into the clash between lawyers and police at Tis Hazari court complex in New Delhi and transfer of two senior police officials during pendency of the investigation.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar, which sat on a holiday after taking suo motu (on its own) cognisance of media reports of the Saturday afternoon incident in which 29 persons were injured including three advocates who suffered gunshot wounds, said that former high court judge Justice (retd) S P Garg would hold the judicial inquiry into the matter.
During the hearing in a jam-packed courtroom, the bench, after hearing various lawyers' associations, directed that no coercive action would be taken against any lawyer on the basis of first information reports lodged at the behest of police officials.
The bench said Justice Garg will be assisted by directors of Central Bureau of Investigation, Vigilance and Intelligence Bureau or any other senior officers appointed by them and the inquiry shall be completed within six weeks and a report be submitted in the court.
The bench directed the Delhi Police commissioner to transfer Special Commissioner Sanjay Singh, who had allegedly ordered lathi charge on lawyers inside the court complex, and Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Harinder Singh, who allegedly had ordered firing at the lawyers, during pendency of the investigation.
It also directed the Police Commissioner to take immediate action with regard to suspension of Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Kanta Prasad, who allegedly dragged an advocate inside the lock up and beat him up, and ASI Pawan, who allegedly fired at the lawyers.
The directions were issued after hearing the heads of various lawyers bodies, including Bar Council of India, Bar Council of Delhi, Supreme Court Bar Association, Delhi High Court Bar Association, coordination committee of Delhi district courts, which demanded that there should be judicial probe into the incident.
They also urged the court that the senior officials of Delhi Police who ordered lathi charge and firing be arrested and suspended along with those who manhandled the advocates.
They wanted a judicial probe saying they have no faith in Delhi Police whose investigation would be 'tainted and biased'.
They also wanted that no coercive action be taken against any advocate.
The security in the high court was beefed up for the hearing and the court room was teeming with bar leaders, lawyers, senior police officers and media persons.
Advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi Police, told the court that in the clash between lawyers and police at Tis Hazari Court complex here on Saturday afternoon, 21 police personnel and eight lawyers were injured while 14 motorcycles and 1 police gypsy were burnt and eight prison vans were vandalised.
The bench, initially held a short hearing at 1 pm and issued notices to the authorities and thereafter, from 3 pm onwards, it heard the matter for one hour and 20 minutes.
In its order, the bench directed the Delhi Police Commissioner to record statements of injured advocates, including those who were shot, and thereafter, lodge an FIR and place a copy of it in the court.
Directions were also issued to the Delhi government and the Centre to provide best treatment to injured lawyers, including those who received gun shot injuries, preferably in All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
The court also directed the Delhi government to provide lump sum ex gratia to advocates Vijay Verma, Ranjit Malik and Pankaj Dubey, who received gun shot injuries, of Rs 50,000, 25,000 and 10,000 respectively.
The court suo motu took up the matter based on news reports of the incident. It decided to conduct an urgent hearing after holding a meeting with senior judges, police and government officers in the morning.
During the hearing, Delhi Police told the bench that the probe has been transferred to crime branch and a special investigation team (SIT) has been formed to look into the clash.
Mehra told the bench that one assistant sub inspector has been suspended and another transferred for alleged involvement in the clash.
The court said the preliminary departmental enquiry by the police should be completed within six weeks and the report submitted in the high court.
The special investigation team of the crime branch will probe the matter, Mehra said, adding that four FIRs have been lodged in connection with the incident under relevant sections, including charges of attempt to murder.
Two station house officers (SHOs) and an additional commissioner were among the 21 personnel injured, police said and claimed that eight lawyers were hurt in the incident.
Lawyers, however, said more of their colleagues were injured than the number claimed by police. They also claimed that two advocates were injured in police firing, but police said they fired in the air.
Registrar General (RG) of the high court said a closed-door meeting was held on Sunday morning by the chief justice and senior most judges of the high court.
The meeting was also attended by senior police officers and additional chief secretary of the Delhi government, he said.
After the meeting, the court decided to hold a hearing at 1 pm, he said.
During the 1 pm hearing, the high court issued notices and sought response of the Centre, the Delhi Police commissioner and the chief secretary on the clash between lawyers and police.