Delhi High Court seeks status report from Delhi Police on plea concerning death of protesting farmer during tractor rally

While Police claims cause of death to be a motor accident, the grandfather of the deceased alleges bullet injuries.
Farmer Protest, video footage on death of a protesting farmer near ITO
Farmer Protest, video footage on death of a protesting farmer near ITONDTV

The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought status report from Delhi Police on a petition seeking constitution of a Special Investigation Team to conduct a court-monitored probe into the untimely death of a 25-year old protesting farmer on January 26 during the tractor rally (Hardeep Singh vs State).

A single-judge Bench of Justice Yogesh Khanna also issued notice to Chief Medical Officer, District Hospital, Rampur, Uttar Pradesh and Station House Officer, P.S. Bilaspur Rampur, Uttar Pradesh in the petition.

The petitioner before the High Court is the grandfather of deceased farmer, Navreet Singh.

Delhi Police has claimed that the cause of death in the present case was a motor accident.

Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the petitioner, argued that not only are there two eye-witnesses who assert that there were gunshots, even medical experts have opined that the "lacerated wounds" on the deceased's body are consistent with that of a bullet injury.

"I have lost my grandson. I have a right to know how he died. I am seeking a fair, independent and time-bound investigation. Delhi Police at every step of the way inspired not a shred of confidence in me," Grover submitted.

Grover informed the Court that after the Delhi Police abandoned the spot, the family of the deceased took the body to Rampur, Uttar Pradesh where a post-mortem was conducted.

She added that the Delhi Police neither initiated any inquest proceedings nor registered any FIR in terms of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Instead, they arrived at a "hasty, prejudicial" and "unsubstantiated" conclusion that the cause of the death was the tractor toppling over, Grover said.

Grover also highlighted that there are various CCTVs cameras near the spot of the incident, and the footage of the same ought to be preserved.

Grover also alleged that the Police was releasing only a selective footage from one of those CCTVs in order to further their claim of the incident being an accident.

To "silence any inquiry into the matter", Delhi Police has also registered FIR against a sitting Member of Parliament and at least three journalists, Grover further remarked.

During the course of her submissions, Grover prayed that the raw CCTV footage be preserved and copy of the X-ray report and video of the post mortem be supplied to the petitioner.

In response, standing counsel Rahul Mehra, on instructions, stated that CCTV footage has been seized and examined.

He informed that a "generic FIR" has also been registered by Delhi Police.

Mehra added that there is "no difficulty" in sharing the documents that are in the possession of the Delhi Police and that if CCTV footage is yet to be preserved, steps would be taken for the same.

He nonetheless sought time from the Court to file a status report in the matter.

The matter would be heard next on February 26.

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news