The fact-finding committee on the North East Delhi riots of February prepared by the Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC) has said the seemingly planned violence was directed towards a certain community and recommended a probed headed by a sitting or retired high court judge.
“The violence which hit Delhi’s North East district on 23 February 2020 and continued unabated for the next few days was seemingly planned and directed to teach a lesson to a certain community which dared to protest against a discriminatory law,” the committee said in its report.
The committee, headed by MR Shamshad Advocate-On-Record, Supreme Court of India, said, “The most important recommendation is to set up a high-powered probe headed by a sitting or retired judge of the High Court”.
The report said the new committee must also review chargesheet filed by the police in light of left-out facts, “to be submitted to the relevant court.”
Another important mandate must be to “establish the full extent of the complicity and abdication of duty by the Delhi Police in allowing the violence to take place.”
It must look into “culpability for engaging in direct acts of violence - including sexual violence - through a written report supported by photographs, videos and other evidences as possible, to be submitted to the court.”
Members of the panel said they would write to both the Central and state governments in support of this recommendation.
Communal clashes had broken out in North East Delhi in February after violence between supporters and protesters of the citizenship law spiralled out of control, leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.
According to the amended citizenship Act, non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will be given Indian citizenship will come into force from January 10.
The Delhi Minorities Commission guided by its mandate, especially clauses 10 (c,d,h,i) and 10(3) of DMC Act 1999, had set up a fact-finding committee on March 9 to probe the violence.
Members of the committee are of the opinion that there was failure on the part of the state to anticipate the violence and act effectively in preventing the riots or take adequate protective measures.
“Remedying this severe abdication of duty and violation of the constitutional mandate requires resolute steps towards the assurance of non-discrimination and accountability,” said the report.
Seeking appropriate measures, the committee, in its report, wrote, “Approaching the governments (Central as well as NCT of Delhi), including filing of appropriate petition in appropriate court(s), seeking the constitution of a five-member independent committee with the composition and mandate.”
“The committee to be chaired by a serving or retired high court judge, and made up of a district and sessions court judge, a senior advocate, a retired police official not less than the rank of deputy inspector general of police and not being a person who served in Delhi Police, and a civil society member of repute, particularly of legal or human rights background.”
The members must have a “proven record of personal integrity,” “proven commitment towards upholding human rights,” and “knowledge of law and due process,” it said.
There must be an adequate gender balance in the committee’s compositions also having suitable time and necessary powers to effectively fulfil the mandate of its constitution.
Mandate of Committee
Defining the mandate of the probe, the panel members said the high-power committee must “ensure the proper and prompt action for non-registration of FIRs in all cases where complaints were not converted into FIRs.”
The committee must ensure “the recording of victims’ statements under Section 164 of CrPC,” and also make sure that the witness and victim are given protection in accordance with the Delhi Witness Protection Scheme.”
The committee must also ensure that compensation is paid to all victims “as per their actual loss in a fair and time-bound manner.” The members are of the view that it is necessary “to reduce huge disparity in quantum of compensation between public officials and civilian death cases.”
The report mandates reviewing of “the Delhi government’s Assistance Scheme for victims to assess whether the compensation amounts under each category are proportionate to the quantum of harm, injury, and loss suffered, and provide new formulations, if any, in a written report.”
In view of the instances cited in this report and other reported cases, “the Delhi Minorities Commission should take appropriate action against Delhi Police personnel involved in violence on victims, acts of omission etc. in terms of power vested in it as per the Delhi Minorities Commission Act, 1999,” the report said, adding, the DMC should take “appropriate action for registration of FIRs on the complaints of offences with respect to violence.”
The report seeks to ensure that all affected get legal help and the DMC look into the appointment of a team of two-three experts to assist the claims commissioner, on behalf of the aggrieved persons who may need assistance.
“Seek legal opinion from a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge to assist the High Court in its determination on the direct and proximate nexus of the speeches and slogans raised by senior political leaders which led to the break out of violence,” the committee said.
'Use Report as Basis to Determine Cost of Damage'
Further, the report has urged the Delhi government to take special measures to “ensure that no person who has exhibited a bias against any group is appointed as the Public Prosecutor in these cases.”
“Take all measures to ensure that Public Prosecutors act in a fair and impartial manner and also make use of the fact finding report as the basis to determine and bear the cost of damages caused.”
The members after an assessment have requested the governments to “use this report’s findings as the basis to determine and bear the cost of damages caused.”
The report further recommended that the Central and Delhi government pass appropriate legislation relating to communal violence to ensure prevention and protection of minorities from communal violence and fix accountability of the police force.