HC restrains Delhi Police from releasing information on Kalita till charges framed

new delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday restrained the Delhi Police from issuing any statement with respect to allegations against Prinjra Tod activist Devangana Kalita's alleged involvement in the purported conspiracy to incite the north-east Delhi riots this February. The court ordered the police here to not issue any statements regarding this until charges against the Jawaharlal Nehru University student are framed and the trial in her case begins.

The high court's order came in a petition filed by Kalita, through advocate Adit S Pujari, seeking a mandamus to the Delhi Police, alleging that the law enforcement agency was leaking selective information about allegations against her without having proved them in a court of law.

The single-judge bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru said, "The matters concerning communal riots are undoubtedly sensitive. This court is also informed that FIRs filed in such cases are not being publicly disclosed. In these circumstances, this court considers it apposite to direct the respondent (Delhi Police) not to issue any further communication naming any accused or any witness till the charges, if any, are framed and the trial is commenced."

The anti-CAA activist had taken the Delhi Police to court after it had issued a press note, which according to the petitioner contained misleading information that could put her and members of her family in danger. Moreover, Pujari argued on her behalf that the "selective leaking" of alleged evidence against his client and other accused pending investigation was prejudicial to their right to a fair trial.

While Kalita had also sought directions preventing the police from leaking such information during the trial, the court refused to do so. Justice Bakhru said, "Unless directed otherwise, the trial is required to be conducted in an open court. Thus, at this stage, this court does not consider it apposite to restrain the respondent from issuing statements at the stage of the trial."

Additional Solicitor-General Aman Lekhi had appeared for the Delhi Police in the matter and said that the press note issued by a DCP-level officer was made public with the intention of responding to allegations made against the force by Kalita's organisation Pinjra Tod in a social media post.

ASG Lekhi argued that the activist group's tweet had made it necessary for the police to "set the record straight" so to speak and restore public confidence in the police. Moreover, he submitted that because Kalita had "made no efforts" to dissociate herself from the post made by Pinjra Tod, it warranted a response from the Delhi Police.

Kalita was arrested by the police here along with fellow member Natasha Narwal on May 23 for purportedly taking part in an alleged conspiracy to incite the February riots that killed over 53 people in north-east Delhi.

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