16 February 2016
A criminal writ petition in form of PIL was filed by ND Jayapraksh, a JNU student before the Supreme Court of India seeking “appropriate directions to the respondents to ensure a proper and decorus conduct of the proceedings in the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate, Patiala House Court, New Delhi in connection with FIR No. 110/16 filed at P.S. Vasant Kunj, New Delhi regarding an incident which allegedly took place in the campus of JNU.”
At 2 pm, senior counsel Indira Jaising mentioned the petition before the Chief Justice of India seeking an urgent hearing of the matter on 17 February.
Upon mentioning CJI ordered:
Post this matter tomorrow i.e. Wednesday, the 17th February, 2016 before an appropriate Bench.
The matter was thus listed for hearing on 17 February before a bench comprising of Justices J Chelameswar and Abhay Manohar Sapre.
17 February 2016 – 10.30 am
Listed as item 1 when the matter was called for hearing, Court acknowledged the submissions that certain unpleasant and unacceptable incidents took place on 15 February, when Kanhaiya Kumar was produced before the Patiala House Court where a crowd had gathered which included the members of the legal fraternity, students and their ‘supporters’ and a large number of media person.
Senior Counsels KTS Tulsi and Raju Ramchandran appeared for the petitioner who informed the bench that the case concerning Kanhaiya Kumar was to be taken up by the concerned magistrate at Patiala House Courts at 2 pm. It was also submitted that there are apprehensions that the “proceedings may not go on in an atmosphere in which legal proceedings are normally expected to be conducted”.
Senior counsel Sidharth Luthra appeared before the court representing the Delhi High Court while senior counsel Ajit Kumar Sinha appeared for Delhi Police.
On the unanimous submission of the counsels that appropriate directions may be issued by the court for the smooth conduct of proceedings, bench observed that to ensure the same, it was necessary to regulate the entry of people in the PH court complex. With the agreement of the counsels, bench ordered that for the purpose of proceedings on 17 February, only the advocates representing the prosecution and the accused shall be permitted an entry into the court hall.
Considering that accused was a young student, bench allowed entry of four of his relatives and in their absence, a faculty and a friend, if present.
In light of the attack on media personals on 15 Feb and having regard to the constraints of the space in the Court hall, bench sought names of five journalists who could be present to cover the proceedings. Two journalists – Bhadra Sinha and Pramod Kumar who were then present in the SC representing the journalists community submitted a list of five journalists.
Having regard to the law and order situation in and around the PH court complex, bench directed the Commissioner of Police, Delhi “to take such appropriate measures as he may deem fit to maintain the law and order situation in accordance with law”.
To identify the persons who were allowed an entry in the PH court complex, bench asked the Registrar General of the Delhi High Court to be personally present there at 1.30 pm.
Court also directed that no mobile phones would be allowed inside the court hall and asked the CP, Delhi to ensure the same.
While the bench was hearing the matter, certain slogans were raised within the courtroom which the bench observed were “at a pitch not normally permitted in the Court”. Advocate Rajiv Yadav, who had raised the slogans, later tendered an unconditional apology. Bench accepted the same and held the issue to be “closed”.
With such interim directions, SC issued notice in the petition and adjourned the matter to 22 February.
Patiala House Courts – 2 pm
Order of the Supreme Court and the arrangements by the Delhi Police fall short when the PH court complex witnessed the incidents similar to those of 15 February. The Magistrate in the PH courts complex, in order to ensure the safety of the accused and his counsels, directed them to take shelter in his chambers.
Supreme Court of India – 2.15 pm
Senior counsels Kapil Sibal and Indira Jaising, and advocate Prashant Bhushan made an “extraordinary mention before the bench presided over by Justice Chelameswar stating that despite its morning order, a tense situation was building up in the PH courts complex “where a group of lawyers and others are resorting to violence threatening the security of the accused Kanhaiya Kumar and his counsel” and sought appropriate directions. It was further submitted that the five journalists allowed by the SC to cover the matter also feared for their safety.
Bench called upon senior counsel Ajit Kumar Sinha, representing Delhi Police, to contact the Commissioner of Police and obtain instructions as to the situation prevailing at the PH courts complex. After the court received an instruction concerning the situation, bench deputed members of the Supreme Court Bar to observe the situation and report it back to the Court. Bench also observed that the presence of senior counsels “might help diffuse the tension”. The list included senior counsels Kapil Sibal, Dr. Rajeev Dhawan, Dushyant Dave, Harin P Rawal, Ajit K. Sinha and ADN Rao. The committee then proceeded to the PH court complex to observe the situation.
Supreme Court of India – 4 pm
After its return to the Supreme Court, the committee of five senior counsels narrated the prevalent situation at the PH court complex. Committee informed the bench that accused Kanhaiya was attacked within the court premises and even the members of the committee were verbally abused by the mob.
Senior counsel Sinha submitted that the he had spoken to the CP, Delhi and he “personally assured the safety of the accused and all others who were permitted to attend the proceedings before the PH court.
The committee which had made an oral submission was requested by the court to submit the same report in writing. Bench also requested senior counsel Luthra to submit the report of the observations made by the Registrar General of the Delhi High Court by 2 pm on 18 February. Further bench asked senior counsel Sinha, representing Delhi Police, to submit a report by 10.30 am on 19 February.
Bench directed the CP, Delhi to take necessary steps to ensure the safety of the accused until he is produced next before the trial court. Bench further said:
We therefore make it clear that the responsibility is exclusively is that of the Commissioner of Police, Delhi to ensure the safety of the accused.
Bench adjourned the matter and listed it for further hearing on 18 February at 2 pm.
Read the complete order here.
Cover image from here via India TV