Ramlila crackdown: SC raps Delhi police, Ramdev

Last Updated: Friday, February 24, 2012 - 00:42

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Thursday held Baba Ramdev and Delhi Police guilty of negligence in connection with the midnight crackdown on yoga guru’s followers at the Ramlila Maidan on June 4-5 last year during his anti-corruption agitation.

The apex court, while stressing that the authorities could have avoided the violent incident, said that both Baba Ramdev and the police acted in an irresponsible manner.

“There was abuse of power by the Delhi Police and there was violation of fundamental rights of people,” the apex court bench of Justices BS Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar said.

“The incident shows might of the state which strikes at the foundation of democracy. It is a glaring example of trust deficit between people governing and people being governed,” the bench said.

The apex court said that the use of teargas shells and
use of lathi charge by the Police, though limited, can hardly
be justified.

"They are the protectors of the society and, therefore,
cannot take recourse to such illegal act. Use of water
cannons by the Police is again a myth," the bench said.

The judges gave concurrent findings in their nearly 300
page judgement and wrote it separately explaining on
various aspects of the citizen`s fundamental right and the
State`s duty in enforcing the rule of law.

"Police might have acted independently or in
consultation with the Ministry. Either way, there is no
material before me to hold that the decision of the Ministry
or the Police was mala fide in law or in fact.

"Upon taking into consideration the cumulative effect of
the affidavits filed on record and other documentary evidence,
I am unable to dispel the argument that the decision of
Ministry of Home Affairs, Union of India reflected its shadow
on the decision making process and decision of the Police
authorities," Justice Kumar in his judgement said.

Justice Chauhan assailed the police action as being
"tyranical" which was let loose on innocent sleeping persons
thus violating their fundamental right.

"There are circumstances and reasons given by the Home
Minister in his statement for making the statement that he
made. The decision of the Delhi Police in the normal course of
events would have a connection with the declaration made by
the Ministry.

"In considered view, in the facts of the present case,
the State and police could have avoided this tragic incident
by exercising greater restraint, patience and resilience.

The orders were passed by the authorities in "undue
haste" and were executed with force and overzealousness, as
if an emergent situation existed," Justice Kumar said.

The apex court said the decision to forcibly evict the
innocent public sleeping at the Ramlila grounds in the
midnight of 4th/5th June, 2011, whether taken by the police
independently or consultation with the Ministry of Home
Affairs is amiss and suffers from the element of arbitrariness
and abuse of power to some extent

"The documents on record show that some of the Police
personnel certainly abused their authority, were unduly harsh
and violent towards the people present at the Ramlila Maidan,
whereas some others were, in fact, talking to the members of
the gathering as well as had adopted a helpful attitude.

"Even if the followers of Ramdev acted in retaliation to
the firing of teargas, still they had no cause or right in
law to throw bricks towards the stage, in particular, towards
the police and it is a hard fact that some police personnel
were injured in the process," the bench said.

The Supreme Court also directed the Delhi government and the Delhi Police Commissioner to register a case against officers who caused injury, and those who used lathicharge and tear gas in the crackdown.

The court further asked the authorities to give a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family members of Rajbala, the woman who died due to the injury suffered in the police crackdown.

Besides, the court also ordered a compensation of Rs 50,000 for those who sustained serious injuries and Rs 35,000 for those with minor injuries during the incident.

Importantly, the apex court asked the yoga guru to share 25% of the total compensation to be given to the victims.

The apex court which examined the CCTV clipping and other
material records before it clearly demonstrated indiscipline
on behalf of the police personnel, but said the teargas shells
were lobbed by the cops after it was attacked by bricks by
followers of Ramdev who it felt ought to asked them to
disperse.

The bench said that a person of Ramdev`s stature could
have defused the situation but he failed to do it.

"The role of Baba Ramdev at that crucial juncture could
have turned the tide and probably brought a peaceful end
rather than the heart rending end of injuries and unfortunate
deaths.

"Every law abiding citizen should respect the law and
must stand in conformity with the rule, be as high an
individual may be.

"For these reasons, I have to take a view that in the
circumstances of the case, Baba Ramdev and the office bearers
of Randev`s trust have contributed to the negligence leading
to the occurrence in question and are vicariously liable for
such action," Justice Kumar said.

The apex court though holding the cops and the Home
Ministry responsible for the excess, however, took the view
that the action was not actuated by malice.

"Police might have acted independently or in consultation
with the ministry.

"Either way, there is no material before me to hold that
the decision of the Ministry or the Police was malafide in law
or in fact there was undue haste, adamancy and negligence on
the part of the Police authorities, then also it cannot escape
to mention that to this negligence, there is a contribution by
Ramdev`s trust as well," the bench said.

Meanwhile, the family members of Rajbala have refused to take any compensation from the yoga guru’s trust, saying that he was not responsible for the unfortunate incident.

The apex court had taken suo motu cognisance of media reports purportedly showing brutality of police action against the sleeping followers of Ramdev, including women and children.

Ramdev had alleged the police action was carried out on the instructions of their political masters and demanded action against all people who had directed the mid-night crackdown.

Ramdev was agitating along with his followers against corruption and demanding that the UPA government must make sincere efforts to bring back black money illegally parked in secret foreign bank accounts by tax evaders.

Delhi Police, however, claimed Ramdev had instigated his followers to indulge in violence, forcing the police to act at that time of the night.



First Published: Thursday, February 23, 2012 - 09:18

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