Delhi Riots: PIL filed in Supreme Court for national guidelines on prevention and accountability of communal violence
Times of India
Litigation News

Delhi Riots: PIL filed in Supreme Court for national guidelines on prevention and accountability of communal violence

Shruti Mahajan

In the aftermath of the Delhi riots that led to over 40 casualties in the National capital, a PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking the laying down of national guidelines on prevention and accountability of communal violence.

The PIL petition filed by Yogita Bhayana also prays for setting up of a Supreme Court monitored Special Investigation team (SIT) to ensure "justice to the victims of the Delhi riots" of February 2020.

The petition states that various independent media reports suggest that when the riot affected victims had reached out to the Delhi Police for help, the response to the same was delayed and that there was no help extended from the law enforcement agency.

It claims that the Police stood as mute spectator, just metres away from mobs engaging in arson and violence.

The impunity with which the Police failed to act to prevent the further spread of violence is on account of lack of a "law with teeth" or directions to this effect, the petitioner submits. It is said,

"India has witnessed many horrifying riots in the past but the impunity of the Police who is under legal duty to prevent riots or help victims facing mob attacks still continues unfortunately due to lack of law with teeth or directions to this effect by this Hon’ble court to deal with criminal misconduct/omissions from legal duty of police officers and lack of system of accountability of Police officers and political leadership (Which is in direct Command of Police) during communal violence."

The petitioner also invokes the Principle or doctrine of Command Responsibility or the Superior Responsibility Legal Doctrine, which is adopted by many countries, according to the petitioner.

She argues that this doctrine targets ending the impunity with which the Police failed to act in controlling the untoward incidents.

Command Responsibility or Superior Responsibility Legal Doctrine essentially operates a system of accountability of those police officers/political leaders who are directly responsible for not stopping riots and saving life and property.
the Petitioner states

For this reason, India needs to adopt the Doctrine and the same needs to be enforced by the Supreme Court by way of the national guidelines for fixing accountability, it is argued.

The petitioner goes to cite the various provisions under several statutes, including, the Code of Criminal Procedure, The Police Act, the National Security Act, among others, as well as the Provisions under the Constitution of India. to make a case for a need for a Legal Doctrine of this nature.

Several Conventions under International Laws are also relied on to buttress the case for the enforcement of national guidelines on the issue.

During the riots in Delhi, a large number of calls were made to the Police Control Room and majority of these remained unanswered, the petitioner points out. She has submitted that his led her to file the instant PIL for the adoption and enforcement of guidelines so that more accountability may be fixed where there is inaction to stop communal violence and riots.

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