Red Fort vandalism case: Police want lawyers of their choice, Cabinet to take call

The Delhi government will hold a Cabinet meeting on Friday to take a call on the Delhi Police’s request to let a panel of special public prosecutors (SPP) argue the cases related to the vandalism of Red Fort on January 26 during the farmers’ rally against the three agriculture laws.

Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal had on July 2 written to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal requesting him to convey the decision of the Cabinet on this matter to him at the earliest.

The L-G’s request came after Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain had informed him that the Delhi government was opposed to the request of the police.

On Thursday, the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said in a statement that the “Centre is pressuring the Kejriwal government to make its own lawyers fight court cases related to the farmers’ agitation.”

Earlier, Baijal had made it clear that he supports the Delhi Police proposal.

If the Cabinet turns down the police request, and reiterates that the Delhi government’s regular additional public prosecutors belonging to the Directorate of Prosecution are “competent enough” to handle the cases, then Baijal is likely to invoke Article 239AA(4), which allows him to refer to the President of India matters on which he fails to arrive at a consensus with the elected government.

A Delhi government spokesperson did not comment on if it will approach the court if the L-G does so.

An L-G House source said that the matter pertains to “disrespect of the National Flag and blatant disregard of the rule of law on Republic Day 2021. It has nothing to do with ‘farmers protest’ as is being deliberately made out with ulterior motives.”

“Individuals with predetermined agenda and vested interests deliberately carried out acts on January 26, 2021, in full media presence that were not only an affront to national morale but aimed at bringing shame to India internationally,” the source added.

The CMO statement added that the Delhi government-appointed lawyers have “received praise earlier and have a proven track record”.

A similar flashpoint had emerged between the elected government and L-G in connection with the police request to appoint SPPs in the Delhi riots cases. After a prolonged standoff, the L-G had then invoked Article 239AA(4), and his decision to approve the panel of SPPs picked by the police had prevailed.

Delhi Police had registered over 43 cases in connection with the Republic Day violence and vandalism.

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