New Delhi: Student activist Asif Iqbal Tanha told the Delhi high court on September 8 that the Delhi Police had failed in performing its public duty in not being able to offer insight into how the confessional statement he had allegedly given was leaked to the media.
Tanha was held over what Delhi Police claimed was his connection with the “conspiracy” into the Delhi riots of February 2020 and charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. In June 2021, he was granted bail by the high court, which noted in the order, “…[W]e are not convinced prima facie of the veracity of the allegations so made.”
LiveLaw has reported Tanha’s advocate Siddharth Aggarwal as having told Justice Mukta Gupta that since the Delhi Police could not conclusively establish how the statement was leaked, they cannot be trusted to investigate their own affairs.
“Sensitive information during course of investigation has been leaked to people who were not supposed to have it. It has been leaked to my prejudice. Most importantly, they have not able to assess what happened and have not been able to take action,” he said, according to LiveLaw.
He also pointed out the shifting standpoint of Delhi Police regarding the leak.
“They were earlier aggrieved by it and now if they are not aggrieved by it, it’s a different view coming. They cannot be trusted now to do an investigation into their own affairs,” he added.
Tanha’s counsel said that on August 18, 2020, as his bail petition awaited hearing, several news channels had read out portions of what was purportedly the activist’s confession to police.
Channels, according to the lawyer, also aired portions of the papers containing the disclosure statement.
“The only person or agency who had the responsibility to take care of this material was the investigating agency,” he said.
The Delhi Police’s partisan investigation into the riots has come under criticism from various bodies, both global and from groups within the country. Aggarwal said that a representation he made to the Deputy Commissioner of Police was ignored and placed the blame squarely on police for the leak.
“We would have to put blinkers on not to recognise what Delhi Police and associated agencies had leaked,” he added.
LiveLaw has reported that last month, Delhi Police told the high court that its enquiry did not establish how, by whom and from where details of the investigation was leaked.
This, Aggarwal noted, was indicative of Delhi Police washing its hands off the leak and placing tangential blame on news channels. When a supplementary charge sheet was filed, argued Aggarwal, even that was leaked.
He said the documents could not have been accessed by anyone other than investigating officials and court officials.
“To say today, that there is no concept of theft of information, to say that I don’t know how it’s gone there and that it’s not property within IPC, is in my humble submission, wrong,” he said, stressing that if an enquiry by police is fruitless, then there should be an investigation.
The court, too, had earlier expressed displeasure over the police’s evasive stance in the matter.
According to The Hindu, Justice Mukta Gupta said, “This vigilance inquiry is even worse than what they do in an ordinary inquiry in a petty theft case. These are not files sent through couriers, these are hand-held files.”
This article first appeared in thewire.in