Jamia Violence: In Delhi HC, Parallels Drawn With Police Brutality In George Floyd Case

Appearing for some of the petitioners in the matter, senior advocate Indira Jaising argued that the force used by police in the present instance was wholly unproportional to alleged public good

Students of Jamia Milia Islamia University hold protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in New Delhi.

Hearing petitions alleging police atrocities on students inside the Jamia Milia Islamia in Delhi following the anti-CAA protests in December 2019, the Delhi High Court on Monday said excessive use of force cannot be justified and the authorities concerned are accountable for their conduct. 

Appearing for some of the petitioners in the matter, senior advocate Indira Jaising argued that the force used by police in the present instance was "wholly unproportional to alleged public good" and thus, urged the court to form a fact-finding committee comprising former judges to ascertain the "authentic" events for granting further relief.

According to a report by Bar and Bench, she also referred to the George Floyd case which sparked widespread protests across the world where a Black American man was killed by police in Minneapolis during an arrest. "At the end of the day, it is a matter which concerns the court. The issue is what is the legitimate use of force. You are aware of other jurisdiction, you remember what happened in George Floyd’s case. The whole issue is the proportionate use of force,” she said, as per a report in the Indian Express.

In response, a bench headed Justice Siddharth Mridul remarked, “We can assure you that courts in India have generated enough jurisprudence on excessive use of force. If you invite our attention to the George Floyd case, we will look into that as well. But we can assure you that there is enough jurisprudence on the issue not only by the Supreme Court but even this court and several others courts as well.” 

The bench was, however, told by the Delhi Police's counsel that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has already prepared a report on this aspect. The bench, also comprising Justice Talwant Singh, directed that the NHRC report be given to the petitioners within four weeks and said there is "enough jurisprudence" on the issue of excessive use of force by police in the country.

"Excessive use of force cannot be justified at all. They (police officials) are accountable. These authorities are accountable for the excessive use of force. That is why you (petitioners) are here," the court said. Jaising said there was no last-mile implementation of the court's decisions while clarifying that the NHRC report did not put an end to the relief sought in her plea.

Jaising further contended that there was "extreme form of violence" by police officials inside the Jamia campus, even after a threat to law and order was diluted when the protesting students returned to the university and the city police had no "backing of law" or permission from the vice-chancellor to enter the campus.

The police personnel trespassed and can be seen beating up students brutally and since there is no authentic fact finding in relation to the incident, the court may appoint a committee for the purpose, she said.

The matter has next been listed for May. 

Meanwhile, in relation to the December 2019 incident, several petitions are pending before the court, seeking directions for setting up a special investigation team (SIT), a commission of inquiry (CoI) or a fact-finding committee, medical treatment, compensation and interim protection from arrest for the students and registration of FIRs against the erring police officers.

The petitioners are lawyers, Jamia students, residents of Okhla in south Delhi where the university is located and the imam of the Jama Masjid located opposite the Parliament House.

(With PTI inputs)