The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to consider a plea seeking contempt action against three lawyers allegedly caught on camera bragging and boasting that they had beaten up Jawaharlal Nehru University stdudents’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar in police lock-up for three hours at the Patiala House Court complex.
“This allegation has been never made before us. This is a new allegation which has come up. You file an appropriate petition and we will consider it,” a bench comprising Justice J Chelameswar and Justice A M Sapre said after a plea for contempt action against these lawyers was mentioned before it.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan said the three lawyers who were allegedly involved in violence at Patiala House Court Complex on February 15 and 17 had conceded in a sting operation aired by some news channels that they had beaten up the JNUSU president.
“These three lawyers were at the forefront during the violent incidents at Patiala House Court Complex on February 15 and 17. They had conceded in a sting operations aired by two news channels yesterday that they had beaten up Kanhaiya Kumar,” Bhushan said.
He said these lawyers have “bragged and boasted” in the sting operation that next time they will bring petrol bombs and were even ready to go to the jail to beat Kumar in his cell.
“These bragging and boasting by the lawyers is trampling the rule of law. It’s high time that the Supreme Court takes suo motu notice of the matter and issue contempt notice against these lawyers,” Bhushan said.
To this, the bench asked Bhushan whether anybody has lodged a case against the three lawyers or has Kanhaiya Kumar accepted that they had beaten him in the police lock-up.
Bhushan, while replying to the query, alleged that police was complacent about lodging any complaint regarding the violence in Patiala House and even Kumar has not said anything about any such incident.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the petitioner N D Jaya Prakash, submitted that a report of National Human Rights Commission has said that Kumar was being terrorised by the lawyers.
She said there was a genuine threat perception to the accused and his security and safety needs to be ensured.
The bench then said it will look into the matter after a proper application is filed.
The bench also ordered that the face of a judicial officer who had appeared in a video recorded by one of the six members of the Supreme Court-appointed committee on Patiala House Court be masked without tampering with the original video.
The court’s order came after Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the Delhi high court, mentioned before the bench that the face of a judicial officer had appeared in the video footage, which may be uploaded on social networking sites causing embarrassment to him.
“The video was recorded by a member of the Supreme Court appointed committee on February 17 after it was tasked to visit the Patiala House Court and assess the situation in which the face of the judicial officer has appeared. To avoid any undue embarrassment to him, his face may be masked,” Luthra said.
The bench also directed the registry that the said video footage in original recorded by senior advocate Haren Rawal, a member committee appointed by the apex court, be kept in a pen drive in a sealed cover to avoid any future dispute regarding its authenticity.
The apex court had 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.
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, had 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.