The Delhi High Court has expressed its disappointment with Delhi Police’s response to Delhi violence accused Asif Iqbal Tanha’s plea against leakage of his confessional statement to the media. The court had taken strict note of this and had asked Delhi Police to conduct a thorough vigilance enquiry to find out the source of the leak but the report submitted to the court at the last hearing was deemed by the court to be ‘half-baked’ as it failed to identify the source of the leak.
“This vigilance enquiry is even worse than what they do in a petty theft case,” Justice Mukta Gupta had reportedly remarked at the last hearing held on March 1. The next hearing is scheduled for March 25.
Delhi Police Counsel Amit Mahajan denied any claim that leakage was cause by the Police to which the court responded that the case was already beyond the stage of allegations as the “police’s property had already been passed on and with the media having the particular information, the case was in fact established,” reported LiveLaw.
The bench of Justice Mukta Gupta has now asked Tanha to file a supplementary affidavit to state that the supplementary chargesheet in the case was leaked to the media even before cognisance of the court or a copy was supplied to him. “If this is their attitude, we’ll see what’s to be done,” said Justice Gupta while admitting Tanha’s contention that the said chargesheet was leaked to the media prior to its cognisance. Mahajan said he would file an affidavit in response to and after Tanha files the said supplementary affidavit.
At the last hearing, the court had dismissed the report’s conclusion that the allegations of leakage to the media were unsubstantiated and said that it does not become so merely because Delhi Police had failed to identify the source of the leakage. The court also remarked that the statement was not a document “lying on the road” that the media could have accessed it. Instead, these were documents handled by senior level IAS officers.
Tanha had filed a petition last year alleging that the police had leaked his disclosure statement to the media, as news portals like OpIndia and Zee Media had carried news reports establishing his guilt. Tanha’s counsel Siddharth Aggarwal pointed out that all accused in the case were facing this issue of leakage of their statements. Aggarwal brought to the court’s attention the order passed by the court’s subordinate bench in a similar plea filed by Pinjra Tod member, Devangana Kalita in which a direction was passed to Delhi Police, restraining them from issuing statements and communications naming her in relation to the case, till the commencement of trial.
In October, 2020 bench of Justice Vibhu Bakru that was hearing this petition then, had asked Zee News to disclose its source from where it had received an alleged “confessional statement” of Tanha. Justice Vibhu Bakru issued the order after the Delhi Police informed HC that “none of the police personnel involved in the investigation had leaked details of the investigation.”
The “news reports” aired had “reported” that the Tanha had “confessed to organising and inciting communal riots that occurred in North-East Delhi”. However, Tanha, submitted in the High Court that he was “coerced by police officials to sign certain papers and make statements while in their effective custody”.
Sudhir Choudhary, editor, Zee news had anchored a show titled Confessions of Delhi’s well planned riots. Jamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, who was arrested by the Delhi Police in May this year in connection with the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) violence in December 2019 in Jamia Nagar in the national capital, had made “shocking revelations during questioning” alleged the show. Choudhary then read out the supposed “confession” and highlighted what he thought were important details about “planning violence, distributing money, etc”.
The order may be read here