Monday 14 November 2011

Arguments of Ram Jethmalani in Supreme Court on 14.11.2011 in Ramlila Maidan incident case

By Sumit Nagpal

The case relating to Delhi Police crackdown on Baba Ramdev at Ramlila Maidan was listed in Supreme Court before a bench of Justice B S Chauhan and Justice Swatantra Kumar and Ram Jethmalani continued his arguments in the matter


Ram Jethmalani focused on the injuries caused to Rajbala who lost her life because of Delhi Police crackdown at Ramlila Maidan. Jethmalani slammed Delhi Police for filing an affidavit in the apex court claiming that Raj Bala was suffering from Osteoporosis but the same Delhi Police failed to submit before the court any documents in support of their claim. Jethmalani also informed the court that Rajbala's death summery stated that a surgery was performed to repair the fracture in her spine. Jethmalani also brought to the notice the fact that her death summery mentioned the same story of Delhi Police that she may have suffered the injuries because of the stampede.

At this point, Justice Swatantra Kumar inquired from Ram Jethmalani so as to what was the cause of injury according to him? Justice Swatantra Kumar also wanted to know if any statement of Rajbala was recorded by anyone as her statement could have put some light so as to how she suffered the injuries. To this query, Jethmalani informed the court that no statement of Rajbala was recorded by the police. Jethmalani also told the court that she suffered injuries at the Ramlila ground and she was taken to hospital by the police. Injury caused in the spinal chord which led to paralysis in all the limbs. "...She died of injuries which are not self inflicted and the person who inflicted those injuries is guilty of her murder. She received injuries from lathicharge or a stone.." Jethmalani said.

Terming the police story as total concoction, Jethmalani slammed Delhi Police commissioner for writing the word "suspected" in his affidavit. " was the duty of the police commissioner to find out the truth and tell to the court if there was an eyewitness. How did he say this? In the death summery, Osteoporosis was introduced and in the postmortem report, there is no mention of the same.The postmortem report puts an end to the story of Osteoporosis..." (During the arguments it came out t hat Delhi Police Commissioner in his affidavit had written that he suspected that the cause of death of Rajbala was fall from the stage and stampede.)

Use of Ramlila Maidan

Starting his arguments on this point, Jethmalani informed the court that the Bharat Swabhiman Trust had paid the licence fee to the MCD and it was completely illegal for the Delhi Police to have entered Ramlila Maidan. Jethmalani informed the court that the police had made security arrangements in the area and one could not enter the premises with any weapon, firearm or a lathi in his hand. He also brought to the attention of the court to some unused bricks lying near the stage. "...It is a most ridiculous suggestion that those bricks were kept ready to attack the police..." said Jethmalani.

He also tore apart the arguments of Delhi Police which took refuge of the 2009 judgment of the Supreme Court judgment which stated that the organizers or the demonstration have to inform the police about the procession/dharna/meeting and they have to give an undertaking that there would be no weapons in the gathering.The Supreme Court judgment also stated that if the demonstrations turn violent, the police shall immediately inform the state government."...Nobody could stop us from doing what we were doing there just by citing the authority of the Supreme Court judgment of 2009. It did not fall in the category of the protests and we were not required to take permission from the police..." Jethmalani said.

Law on use of streets for demonstrations

At this point, Ram Jethmalani put light on various principles of law relating to use of streets and parks for holding public meetings, demonstrations and taking out processions.

"...You have a right to used the streets for processions. The right to use the streets for such purposes existed even before the Constitution came into existence. The state has a power to regulate with reasonable restrictions. State can not put unreasonable restrictions and can not say no to such things. The power to regulate doesn't mean power to prohibit.The public procession is prima facie legal and even if it creates temporary obstructions, it is not prohibited..." argued Jethmalani. He also said that public streets are natural places of expression of public opinion and it is a part of Indian tradition.

Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code

Terming it as totally malafide and irresponsible use of power, Ram Jethmalani slammed the Delhi Police for invoking Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code. Jethmalani ridiculed the language of order under Section 144 saying the order did not even stated material facts so as to from where police got the information that there is likelihood of disruption of peace and tranquility. He went on to say  "...If you fail to state the material facts, the order under section 144 is void..."

Jethmalani also informed the court that under section 144 of CrPC, the police can only direct a person from abstaining from doing a certain act. "...Does this order ask the people don't sleep? Were they causing any annoyance to anyone?.." asked Jethmalani.

Explaining section 144 of CrPC, Jethmalani said three things have to be remembered

  • This section is used if there is immediate provocation and if there is a need for speedy remedy. 
  • Police also have to state material facts in the order passed under section 144. and
  • You can only prohibit certain acts
"...But in this case, the people were sleeping. The were neither acting, nor they intended to act in any manner, then how can you use section 144 on sleeping people. Yoga is an integral part of Indian culture and you wish to treat this activity which has to be prohibited under section 144?.." questioned Jethmalani

At this point of time, the bench rose and the matter was adjourned

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