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Delhi chief secretary Anshu Prakash leads a candle light march from Delhi Secretariat to Rajghat over the recent assault on him by AAP MLAs, in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: PTI
Delhi chief secretary Anshu Prakash leads a candle light march from Delhi Secretariat to Rajghat over the recent assault on him by AAP MLAs, in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: PTI

Delhi chief secretary Anshu Prakash being harassed by hook or crook: HC

'By hook or crook, the chief secretary is being harassed (by AAP MLAs). Is it not a ground to reject the bail plea?' Justice Mukta Gupta said while hearing the bail application of AAP MLA Prakash Jarwal

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Wednesday said that chief secretary Anshu Prakash was being harassed by AAP MLAs by “hook or crook" for pursuing his complaint of alleged assault during a meeting at the chief minister’s residence and said the “very unfortunate" incident did not reflect the working of a civilised society.

The court made the observations when it was informed by the bureaucrat’s counsel that after the 19 February incident, he was served with a notice by the Privileges Committee of the Delhi Assembly asking him to appear before it with regard to a complaint against him.

He was on Tuesday served with a notice by the Assembly’s Question and Reference Committee with a direction that he should present himself before it the next day.

“You cannot harass a complainant (chief secretary) like this. The fact remains that if a person makes a complaint and there is an indirect way of harassing him, whether the court should take cognisance of it.

“By hook or crook, the chief secretary is being harassed (by AAP MLAs). Is it not a ground to reject the bail plea?" Justice Mukta Gupta said while hearing the bail application of AAP MLA Prakash Jarwal, arrested in connection with the assault case.

Describing the incident as “very unfortunate", the court said it did not reflect the working of a civilised society. The chief secretary was served a notice by the Privileges Committee for skipping a meeting on 20 February, which was scheduled a day after he was allegedly assaulted by two AAP MLAs—Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal. They are both in jail.

He also did not attend the subsequent meetings on 21 and 23 February, following which the notice was issued on 1 March. The court, which reserved its order on the bail plea of Jarwal, issued notice and sought a status report from the Delhi Police on Khan’s bail application by 12 March.

The judge also questioned the law and order situation in the national capital, saying how a “person" could be assaulted at a place where chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was sitting. Justice Gupta said, “I am concerned that if a person is assaulted in the presence of the chief minister and the deputy chief minister (Manish Sisodia), what will happen at other places? How should I be satisfied that no such incident would take place in future?"

She said, “It is a very unfortunate situation where the state and the officers feel unsafe and are being threatened by each other." The court said that if this kind of an attitude is followed, there are assaults and counter assaults and this is not the working of a “civilised society". It said,

“Do you understand the impact of such an incident on the society. The impact is very serious when such an incident happens in the heart of city where the chief minister was also sitting," and added the issue was whether the complainant was being pressured.

The court noted that it is a third case against Jarwal of allegedly obstructing a public servant in discharge of duties. While Deoli MLA Jarwal was arrested on 20 February, Khan was taken into custody on 21 February. Their 14-day judicial custody will end on Thursday.

They have moved the high court against dismissal of their bail pleas by court below. During the hearing, which saw heated arguments between the advocates for the MLAs, the chief secretary and the Delhi Police, the court was told that it has been decided that from now onwards all the meetings of the Delhi government will be held under CCTV coverage.

Senior advocates Rebecca John and Dayan Krishnan, appearing for Jarwal, sought bail for him saying that he was ready to abide by any condition. He would give an affidavit that if he violated any condition, his bail should be cancelled, they said.

The counsel claimed that only heated arguments took place between the MLAs and the chief secretary and no assault occurred. On the allegation that he was putting pressure on the officer through issuance of notice by an Assembly panel, John said Jarwal, who has been in custody since 20 February, had nothing to do with the notice.

Advocates Rahul Mehra and Sanjay Lau, appearing for the police, opposed the bail plea and said there was an issue was of trust deficit. In this scenario, it was the citizens of Delhi who were suffering, they contended.

“On the one side it is bureaucrats, on the other it is legislators. We are not in an anarchy. We live in a rule of law and everyone has to abide by the law," Mehra said.

The police counsel also said that according to the medical report of the senior bureaucrat, his injuries were of simple ion nature but two of the provisions invoked on Jarwal were non-bailable.

While opposing the bail plea, they said the police have collected the video recording from the chief minister’s residence, where the incident took place. Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, representing the chief secretary, filed an intervention application and opposed Jarwal’s bail plea saying the bureaucrat was called into a room where no camera was there. He was made to sit between two persons, he submitted.

However, the presence of Luthra was opposed by Mehra who asked in what capacity was the bureaucrat briefing a private counsel when the State was already in court to argue the case.

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