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"The facts of the instant case indicate alleged violation of human rights and also alleged negligence in the prevention of such violation", the High Court observed.
The Allahabad High Court has directed the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to conduct a probe into the alleged police violence at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) campus last month.
The order was passed today by the Bench of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Vivek Varma, which took serious note of the allegations made before it.
“The facts of the instant case indicate alleged violation of human rights and also alleged negligence in the prevention of such violation. We have not looked into the video footage, which are said to be available with the petitioner and compact disks, which are placed on record by the respondents along with counter."
The Court has directed that the NHRC complete the investigation as expeditiously as possible, within a period of one month after the complaint is presented. The Bench has ordered that a copy of the writ petition memo be treated as the complaint.
The Court has directed that the complaint be presented before the NHRC by an authorised Court officer on or before January 9. The petitioner in the matter has also been directed to appear before the NHRC to carry forward the probe.
The NHRC probe was ordered despite a submission made for the petitioner by Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves that inquiry by a Special Investigation Team would be more appropriate. The Court recorded a concern raised by Gonsalves that an NHRC probe, being civil in nature, would not be an effective measure to bring the culprits to board.
All the same, the Court noted that a similar case concerning police violence at Jamia Milia University is already being looked into by the NHRC. In view of the same, the Court has directed the same body to look into the AMU violence as well. The Commission has been requested to convey its findings and recommendations, if any, to the High Court immediately after the conclusion of its inquiry.
The matter has been listed for further orders before the High Court on February 17, 2020.
The Court passed the order after also taking on record counters filed by the police and the AMU authorities.
The petitioners had submitted that State force had been used as a repressive means, recklessly and inappropriately upon University students following protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. The police countered that they were called in on request by the University administration to control the tense situation that prevailed at AMU.
It was further submitted that on December 15, the police forces had been deployed near the University following intelligence inputs received by the district administration regarding a demonstration.
It was contended that the student gathering turned violent and started pelting stones at the police and public property, prompting the “district administration” to enter the campus to disburse the gathering and prevent property damage. As per the police counter, 26 persons were arrested and some were found injured. The police authorities further assert that no lethal weapons were used by them.
The AMU authorities told the Court that the police had entered the campus after being called in by the University. Among other submissions, the administration also told the Court that the anti-CAA demonstrations of December 14-15 also saw the participation of several people who were not students of AMU. Of the 26 arrested by the police, the administration has submitted that 15 persons are not students of AMU.
As regards the reason for ordering that students vacate their hostels on December 16, the AMU authorities has submitted that winter vacations were brought forward.
Along with these counters, the Court was also given two compact disks containing video footage from AMU.
The Bench recorded that while no rejoinder has been filed to the counters, it has been submitted by the petitioner that the writ petition itself and the photos and videos annexed thereto speak volumes about the high-handedness of the police at AMU.
Police violence in AMU followed student protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. Similar violence also took place at the Jamia campus the same day.
Various petitioners had initially approached the Supreme Court against the reported police violence on the two campuses. However, the Supreme Court directed the petitioners to move respective jurisdictional High Courts instead.
Earlier, the Allahabad High Court had ordered the District Magistrate to provide medical care to those injured due to the violence on December 14-15.
In the meanwhile, the Delhi High Court has issued notice in petitions filed against the violence in Jamia last month and is expected to take the matter up next on February 4.