The Delhi Police Thursday told the Delhi High Court that fundamental right to dissent should be respected but no person can be allowed to indulge in violent and riotous activities under the garb of right to free speech.
The police, which filed an affidavit in connection with the Jamia Millia Islamia University violence of December last year, also said "no person can be allowed to commit breach of law," under the garb of exercise of fundamental right of free speech and assembly.
The Delhi Police sought dismissal of pleas seeking quashing of FIRs and directions against alleged police brutality in the University during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests saying the petitions were an utter abuse of PIL jurisdiction as the incidents of violence in and around the campus were well-planned and orchestrated attempt by some persons with local support to intentionally perpetrate violence in the area.
Opposing a batch of PILs seeking setting up of a judicial commission to look into the violence, the police said the claim of police brutality is utter falsehood.
It asserted that the petitioners have created a patently false picture of police brutality and a concerted and well orchestrated effort has been made to mislead the court.
The affidavit filed by Rajesh Deo, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch, said exercising fundamental right to dissent should be respected, however, "no person can be allowed to commit breach of law, indulge in violence, arson and riotous activity causing danger to life, limb and property of innocent citizens under the garb of exercise of fundamental right of free speech and assembly."
The police filed the affidavit in response to various six petitions, moved by lawyers, students of JMI, residents of Okhla in south Delhi, where university is located and the Imam of Jama Masjid mosque opposite Parliament House, in which they had also sought medical treatment, compensation and interim protection from arrest for the students.
The affidavit, filed through advocates Amit Mahajan and Rajat Nair, said such fundamental rights are not absolute and are liable to reasonable restrictions under the Constitution.
"Under the garb of organising a protest, it is completely impermissible for the citizens to create law and order situation and to lay a siege and paralyse the day to day activity of fellow citizens who are completely unconnected with the cause for which protests are organised by a section of the society," it said.
Delhi Police said that videos and photographs collected by the police show that under the garb of student protest, it was a well-planned and orchestrated attempt by some persons with local support to intentionally perpetrate violence in the area.
Police said the evidence showed that there was large scale violence, arson and stone pelting on December 13 and 15, 2019, which resulted in lodging of three FIRs.
"It has now become clear that the incident was not a sporadic incident but a well-planned incident, as the rioters were well armed with stones, lathis, petrol bombs and tubelights which clearly manifest that the intention of the mob was to disrupt law and order situation in the area," it said, adding that a large number of policemen were injured in the incident.
Regarding the prayer for anticipatory bail or quashing of FIR by activists, the police said it was an utter abuse of PIL jurisdiction and creating a facade of student agitation and victimisation by police, the perpetrators of the unlawful activities cannot be conferred with any kind of absolute protection
The affidavit said only due to unavoidable circumstances, it became imperative for the police to enter the university which was being used as a shield by the rioters to pelt stones and other lethal objects on police force
and once the riot incident was contained on December 15, 2019, they have not entered there and not taken coercive action against innocent students.
It said there is an ostensible attempt to obfuscate and impede the ongoing probe in the case and charge sheets have been filed in the concerned court against 20 accused and none of them are students of JMI.
Regarding the prayer in the petitions to frame guidelines on use of force to govern the conduct of police personnel in such cases, the DCP said it is not maintainable and added that due procedure/ standard protocol was followed by the police authorities to control the unruly mob and to maintain law and order in the area.
On the violence incident of December 15, the affidavit said, police received an input that some pass out students and other persons will assemble at JMI for protesting the newly acted CAA and NRC and will go to Parliament and the President House.
The investigation revealed that local leaders and politicians were instigating the protestors and were raising extremely provocative and inciting slogans and the gathering had swelled to about 3500.
It added the mob was warned to remain peaceful but it turned violent and blocked the main Mathura Road by raising provocative slogans and thereafter, the assembly was declared unlawful by the authorities.
Regarding the incident where police force entered the JMI campus, the authorities said the mob had burnt tyres, broke iron gates and damaged vehicles, including an ambulance and the unlawful crowd in different groups entered the university campus and started pelting stones on police from all sides.