Disturbing state of affairs HC on vandalism outside CM residence seeks report from CP

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    New Delhi, Apr 25 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Monday directed the Delhi Police Commissioner to look into and “fix responsibility” for the “serious lapse” outside the residence of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal last month when certain miscreants breached the barricades, reached the gate and destroyed public property, and called the incident a “very disturbing state of affairs”.
     A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi, which was hearing a plea by AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj concerning the alleged attack outside the CM's residence on March 30 during a protest against his remarks on 'The Kashmir Files' film, said that it was clear there was a “failure” on the part of the police force and that the bandobast (security arrangement) was inadequate.
     “The bandobast made outside the residence of the CM and the road leading to the residence, in the wake of the permission sought on behalf of Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha which was declined, was not adequate,” said the bench also comprising Justice Navin Chawla.
     The court noted that as per the status report filed by the police, certain miscreants breached the barricades and reached the gate of the residence, and said, “in our view, the aforesaid lapse is a serious lapse and should be looked at by the Commissioner of Police, Delhi Police”.
     “This kind of incident happening at the residence of any constitutional functionary – whether it is the CM, it could be a judge of the high court or Supreme Court, it could be any other Union Minister.. this is a very disturbing state of affairs that this kind of a thing could in the first place occur or such miscreants should succeed in their endeavour..what kind of a bandobast did you have in place that people could breach three barricades. Then you seriously need to look into your efficiency and functioning,” remarked the court.
     "It is very clear that there has been a failure on part of the force to prevent the incident. We want the Commissioner of Police to look into the lapse on part of the police," the court observed.
     The court questioned if additional force was called when the first barricade was broken or the mob reached the CM's residence and said that the issue concerning the security arrangement “needs investigation at the highest level.”
     “He (CP) should inquire into firstly whether bandobast was adequate, secondly the reasons for the failure of the arrangements made and thirdly fix the responsibility for the lapse which admittedly has occurred” the court stated.
     The court clarified that it was not satisfied with the present police status report, which was given in a sealed cover, as far as the security arrangement was concerned and granted two weeks to the police commissioner to file a further status report, including on the aspect of the review of the CM's security.
     In case of any lapse in the investigation in the matter, the magistrate concerned may look into it and there are judicial remedies available, it added.
     Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Delhi Police, stated that the investigation in the matter was ongoing and a review of the CM's security has been undertaken and the petition should thus be closed.
     He added that although the incident “ought to not have happened”, a failure does not mean that the bandobast was “fundamentally flawed”.
     “Once there is a failure, it has to come with consequences... Responsibility has to be fixed so that remedial action is taken... This is a very important facet of democracy irrespective of our ideology.. just like we say nobody can say he is not our PM. It is the constitutional office we are concerned with. It is not about A individual or B individual,” the court said.
     Senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Rahul Mehta, appearing for the petitioner, urged the court to constitute an SIT for an impartial and independent probe into the incident which was “no laughing matter”.
     Singhvi claimed that certain persons who were seen in the videos and pictures of the incident were later “felicitated” by a political party.
     Bhardwaj, in his petition through advocate Bharat Gupta, has sought the constitution of an SIT to probe the alleged attack and argued that the vandalisation of the official residence of the Chief Minister during a protest against his remarks on 'The Kashmir Files' film appears to have been carried out with Delhi Police's tacit complicity.
     “On March 30, 2022, several BJP goons, in the garb of a protest, launched an attack on the official residence of the Delhi CM. Videos and photographs show that these goons casually walked through the security cordon (maintained by Delhi Police), kicked and broke the boom barrier, broke the CCTVs cameras with lathis, threw paint on the gate of the residence, and almost climbed over the gate, while Delhi Police personnel simply looked on, doing little to stop the protestors,” the plea alleged.
     On April 1, the high court had sought a status report from the police concerning the incident and said that an "element of fear" was sought to be created by the "unruly crowd" and the police force at the spot was "inadequate" and "outnumbered".
     The matter would be heard next on May 17.     PTI ADS

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)