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The Delhi High Court was yesterday informed that requisite approval had come from the Delhi Government with respect to the appointment of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and other Central Government counsel as Special Public Prosecutor/Special counsel in a case pertaining to the Delhi riots. (Aqil Hussian vs State & Ors)
The statement was made before a Division Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar in a habeas corpus petition concerning the alleged illegality of custody of an accused under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The FIR pertained to an anti-CAA protest at North-Delhi's Jafarabad area on February 22.
When notice was issued in the matter, the Court recorded that there was lack of clarity as to whether the Delhi Government or the Central Government should represent the respondents, specifically Delhi Police.
Delhi Government (Arvind Kejriwal led) submitted that as per settled law, it was only on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers of the Delhi Government that the power under Section 24(8) CrPC to appoint the Special Public Prosecutor/Special Counsel could be exercised by the Lieutenant Governor.
The Lieutenant Governor had no independent power to make such appointments, it was stated.
It was added that the above position was accepted by the Delhi Police as well, since it had applied for the appointment of Special Public Prosecutor/Special Counsel to the Ministry of Home, Delhi Government.
Delhi Government then brought the Court's attention to the approval granted to the appointment of Special Public Prosecutor/Special Counsel to represent the respondents in the present case.
It was informed that on May 29, Deputy Secretary (Home), Delhi Government had written to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Legal Cell), informing that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta with Additonal Solicitor General Maninder Acharya and Aman Lekhi; Standing Counsel Amit Mahajan and Advocate Rajat Nair had been appointed as Special Public Prosecutor/Special Counsel to represent Delhi Police in the present case.
The Central Government submitted that the approval of Home Ministry, Delhi Government had been obtained so as to avoid controversy and the same did not necessarily reflect the understanding of the Central Government with regards the interpretation of the judgment of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in State (NCT of Delhi) Vs. Union of India & Another (2018).
In view of the stand taken by the Delhi Government and the Central Government, the Court opined that controversy with respect to representation did not survive.
In February, a letter was also sent by the Home Department of Delhi Government to the Deputy Commissioner of Delhi Police, intimating that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta will head a team of lawyers representing the Delhi Police before the Delhi High Court and other fora in all matters related to the Delhi Riots.