New Delhi, July 15 : The Delhi Police, while refuting allegations of Pinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita, who is facing probe in a case relating to the Delhi riots, told the Delhi High Court that the note on her was not leaked to the media but shared to “save people’s faith in the public institution”.
“It wasn’t a selective leak. The reason behind the issuance of this press note was not to prejudice or harm the reputation of the accused, but, it was actually done to save the people’s faith in the public institution (Delhi Police),” Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi told the court.
He added that the nature of the case and allegations against Kalita were not revealed by the police but it was the members of that group who disclosed the details on social media platforms.
The submissions came as a single judge bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru was hearing a petition filed by Kalita seeking the court’s direction to the Delhi Police to not leak any allegations pertaining to the petitioner to the media pending investigation, and thereafter during trial.
During the hearing, which continued for over two hours, Lekhi argued that the press note being cited by Kalita was issued to correct the perception that police, being a statutory body, is not part of “any machinery”.
The ASG said the some tweets put out by members of the said group used words like “massive Hindutva machinery” and the same cannot be accepted “as how can anyone communalise the police force”.
The court has now kept the matter for further hearing on Thursday.
In the previous hearing, the court had pulled up the police over its response filed in connection with Kalita’s plea, saying that “this wasn’t the kind of affidavit the court expected”.
“This isn’t the kind of affidavit that was expected. It can’t be allowed on record unless someone takes responsibility of what is being said in this.
“If the same affidavit remains, we would be testing the averments made in it,” Justice Bakhru had said. Counsel for the petitioner had also raised questions on the sharing of the affidavit with the media.
The Delhi Police, in its affidavit filed by special counsel for the Delhi riots, Amit Mahajan and Rajat Nair, contended that it was Kalita who herself has been guilty of frustrating a fair trial and to impede the ongoing investigation against her by starting a media campaign to gain public sympathy.
“It was the accused petitioner, who in the garb of free speech has been reverently trying to obfuscate and derail the investigation against her by misusing social media platforms and by peddling fake narratives and misinformation against the investigating agency and by maligning its investigation, as state sponsored malicious prosecution on such social media platforms,” the affidavit filed under the signature of Deputy Commissioner of Police, Crime (STARS & STF), read.
On June 11, the High Court restrained the Delhi Police from circulating information. “The respondent is restrained from issuing any such statements or circulating information regarding allegations and evidence allegedly collected against the petitioner or other accused, to any person, including to the media or on social media platforms,” Justice Bakhru had said.
Kalita was first held for the Jafrabad violence case, and then for the Daryaganj violence case. However, the Delhi Police filed a charge sheet against her and co-accused Natasha in Jafrabad violence case on June 2.
The police said that both were actively involved in hatching the conspiracy to cause riots near Jafrabad Metro Station, and were also found to be connected to the ‘India Against Hate’ group and JNU scholar Umar Khalid. “The message, found in the phone of an accused, on Whatsapp chat, reveals the conspiracy and the extent of preparation for causing riots,” the statement by the police added.