A Delhi court on Wednesday dismissed an application filed by Jamia Millia Islamia seeking an FIR against Delhi police officials for allegedly breaking into the campus without its permission and assaulting students and security guards during anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in December 2019. Metropolitan Magistrate Rajat Goyal held that the acts allegedly committed by the police officials fell within the purview of the acts committed in discharge of official duties, and a requisite sanction was a must from the authorities concerned to prosecute them.
Thus, as per law down by the Supreme Court, existence of requisite sanction is a must even before jurisdiction could be exercised. That being so, present application cannot be allowed for want of sanction, the court said. The application had sought registration of an FIR claiming that on December 15, 2019 police officials committed various atrocities, including vandalizing public/university property and unnecessary use of force against hapless students who were only exercising their democratic right to protest peacefully.
In an Action Taken Report field in response to court's direction, the police said that a protesting crowd set several vehicles on fire and then went inside the university campus and started pelting stones on the police and raised provocative slogans. In order to maintain law and order situation, police had to enter the university campus and contain the mob by detaining some persons, the report said.
Advocates Asghar khan and Tariq Nasir, who represented the university, said that they will file a revision petition before a superior court against the order. The court said in its order that it was clear from the factual background of the matter that some of the protests had become violent and that police personnel were acting to control the said protests at the relevant point of time, so as to prevent violence and prevent law and order situation from further deterioration.
Though it could be argued that while so acting, the police/respondents had allegedly exceeded their jurisdiction and used more force than necessary in some instances, it cannot be said, by any stretch of imagination, that the said acts allegedly committed by the respondents were wholly unconnected to their official duty. Likewise, it could also be argued that the situation perhaps could have been handled by the respondents in a better way and that some restraint should have been shown by the police/respondents in order to differentiate between peaceful student protesters and anti-social elements who had attempted to hijack the entire movement, the judge said.
The judge said that however, the lack of such restraint exhibited by the police/respondents and excesses committed in trying to control the situation are very much related to official duties of the respondents. This court has no hesitation in holding that acts allegedly committed by the respondents fall within the purview of section 197 CrPC., being acts committed in discharge of official duties, the court further said.
The application had claimed that on December 15, 2019 civil society members decided to call a peaceful protest near the university area against CAA. In pursuit of clearing the crowd, police officials broke into the campus without seeking any sanction and used excessive and arbitrary force and thrashed several security guards of the university and also students.
The said police officials caused destruction of university property and fired tear gas shells and conducted lathi charge. They also hurt religious sentiments of locals of the area by entering into the university mosque, it said. It added that the complainant gave a complaint to the SHO of Jamia Nagar police station and ACP and DCP concerned in this regard on the next day of the incident but no action was taken, therefore, the university approached the court.