The Delhi Government approved the appointment of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and other Central Government counsel as Special Public Prosecutor/Special counsel in a case pertaining to the Delhi riots.
The statement was made before a Division Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar in a habeas corpus petition concerning the alleged illegality of custody of an accused under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). In the present case, the Petitioner’s sister was in custody due to charges concerning UAPA.
The Petitioner was represented by Advocates Mehmood Pracha, Shariq Nisar, Jatin Bhatt. Delhi Government was represented by Standing Counsel Rahul Mehra with Advocate Chaitanya Gosain.
ASG Aman Lekhi with Standing Counsel Amit Mahajan appeared for Centre
Delhi Government submitted that as per settled law, it was only on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers of the Delhi Government that the power under Section 24(8) CrPC to appoint the Special Public Prosecutor/Special Counsel could be exercised by the Lieutenant Governor.
In February, a letter was also sent by the Home Department of Delhi Government to the Deputy Commissioner of Delhi Police, intimating that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta will head a team of lawyers representing the Delhi Police before the Delhi High Court and other fora in all matters related to the Delhi Riots.
It was added that the above position was accepted by the Delhi Police as well, since it had applied for the appointment of Special Public Prosecutor/Special Counsel to the Ministry of Home, Delhi Government. Delhi Government then brought the Court’s attention to the approval granted to the appointment of Special Public Prosecutor/Special Counsel to represent the respondents in the present case.
It was submitted that for UAPA, only a Special Court constituted and empowered under Section 13 of the NIA Act could remand a detainee to custody.
Since these Special Courts had not been sitting during the lockdown due to suspended functioning of courts, custody of the Petitioner’s sister was without authority of law and illegal.
The matter would be taken up next on June 8.