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The Court noted that the news report of the letter was against the letter and spirit of the order issued by the Special Commissioner of Police, Delhi Police.
Refusing to quash the letter dated July 8 issued by Praveer Ranjan, Special Commissioner (Crime & Economic Offences Wing) to subordinate officers on arrests in Delhi riots cases following "resentment in Hindus", the Delhi High Court observed that the communication was not prejudicial in nature.
A Single Judge Bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait noted that FIRs in connection with the February Delhi riots had been registered prior to the issuance of the July 8 letter and even chargesheet had been filed in the FIRs.
The Petitioners before the Court were persons who had lost their family members to the riots.
It was their stand that the letter sent the impression that "due care and precaution" had to be exercised while arresting persons from Hindu community in two areas in North East Delhi. This, the Petitioners stated, amounted to illegal and unlawful interference.
It was argued that the direction to discuss evidence with the Prosecutors could also not be sustained.
Delhi Police vehemently opposed the Petition. Calling the petition "mischievous" and an "attempt to browbeat Police", Delhi Police argued that the direction to exercise "due care and precaution" was with respect to "any" arrest and was certainly not against the Muslim community.
To substantiate its claim of impartiality, Delhi Police submitted that in FIRs pertaining to the death of the Petitioners' kin, as many as 22 Hindus were in judicial custody and that overall 535 Hindus and 513 Muslims had been charge-sheeted in all FIRs.
It was added that although such communications could not be traced to CrPC or any other law, they were issued from time to time by senior officers to guide the investigating officers.
The present letter was also issued only in furtherance of an "intelligence input" on a “degree of resentment among the Hindu community” on account of the arrest of “some Hindu youth” from riot-hit areas, it was said.
As far as sharing of evidence with the Prosecutors was concerned, it was said that the same was done to taking legal opinion.
After perusing the letter dated July 8 and the clarification issued thereafter, the Court opined,
The Court nonetheless stated that due care must be exercised while issuing such communication.
It added that the Investigating Officer need not "bother" himself with the direction on the discussion of evidence with the Prosecutor.
At this moment, Delhi Police referred to the media report titled "Resentment in Hindus on arrests, take care: Special CP to probe teams" and argued that reports which "sensationalize" must be discouraged.
In response, the Court ordered,
The Court granted liberty to the Petitioners to take recourse to the remedy available to them in law and clarified that the Investigating Officer need not follow instructions that are not based in law.
Advocate Mehmood Pracha appeared for the Petitioner. Additional Solitcitor General Chetan Sharma with Standing Counsel Amit Mahajan appeared for Delhi Police.