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Delhi Violence: HC Asks Police to Respond to Jamia Student's Plea on Officials Leaking Info to Media

A woman protestor shouts as police stop many others during their march against the amended Citizenship Act, NRC and NPR, near Jamia Nagar in New Delhi,2020. (Image: PTI)

A woman protestor shouts as police stop many others during their march against the amended Citizenship Act, NRC and NPR, near Jamia Nagar in New Delhi,2020. (Image: PTI)

The high court was hearing the plea by JMI student Asif Iqbal Tanha alleging misconduct by police officials in leaking his disclosure statement, recorded by the probe agency during the investigation, to the media.

The Delhi High Court Monday sought response of the Delhi Police on a plea by a Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) university student, who was arrested in a case related to communal violence in northeast Delhi during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in February, seeking inquiry against officials for leaking information to the media.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru also asked two media houses and two social media platforms to respond to the plea which also sought direction to take down the sensitive/confidential information leaked to them by the officials of Delhi Police.

The high court, which listed the matter for further hearing on September 11, however, refused to pass an ex-parte order directing the media houses, Zee News and OpIndia and social networking platforms Facebook and YouTube to remove the content.

The high court said it will pass necessary orders after hearing all the parties.

"I agree it is not an acceptable behaviour of some officer has done this and advocate Rajat Nair (representing Delhi Police) will agree with it," the judge remarked.

The high court was hearing the plea by JMI student Asif Iqbal Tanha alleging misconduct by police officials in leaking his disclosure statement, recorded by the probe agency during the investigation, to the media.

Advocate Siddharth Aggarwal, appearing for Tanha, argued that his bail plea was being considered by the trial court and the timing of publication of articles in the media was such that it was not only prejudicing the public mind but also the trained mind which was hearing the bail application.

Special Public Prosecutor Rajat Nair, representing the Delhi government and Delhi Police, sought time to seek instructions on the issue.

The petition said Tanha was aggrieved by various publications reporting that he has confessed to orchestrating the Delhi riots and alleged that he was coerced to sign certain papers in the effective custody of police.

It said this information does not have any evidentiary value and alleged that the Delhi Police officials, with malafide intention, leaked the statements to the media to prejudice his case.

The high court was informed that the charge sheet has not yet been filed in the case. Tanha, who was arrested in May, is currently lodged in judicial custody in the Delhi riots case.

Tanha, a third-year student of BA in Persian language, was earlier arrested in connection with the violence in the Jamia area during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in December last year.

The police had said that Tanha, a resident of Abul Fazal Enclave in Shaheen Bagh, was a member of the Students Islamic Organization and was part of the Jamia Coordination Committee which spearheaded protests against the new citizenship law.

"Tanha is a key member of the Jamia Coordination Committee and played an active role in organising protests and riots in Jamia in December 2019. He is a close associate of Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar who had been key organisers of anti-CAA protests and subsequent riots," the police had said.

On December 15 last year, protesters had turned violent, torching four public buses and two police vehicles and pelting stones at the police and civilians, near JMI. At least 40 people including students, policemen and fire fighters were injured in the incident.

Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.