JNU row: HC comes down hard on Delhi Cops

The Delhi police on Monday faced some questions from the Delhi High Court on its investigation regarding Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union president Kanhaiya Kumar's involvement in alleged ''anti-national'' sloganeering in JNU.

The court reserved its order on his bail plea till Wednesday. Reading from the First Information Report and the status report filed by the Delhi Police, the bench of Justice Pratibha Rani asked why the police had ''waited for footage'' from Zee TV and had not taken any action on 9 February when the incident occurred.

''Why was FIR not filed that day itself? What were your men doing?'' asked the court.

The state of Delhi has also joined in the bail appeal of Kumar.

Additional Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Delhi Police, admitted that there was no specific video footage which showed the JNUSU president raising anti-national slogans, but argued that the videos showed that he was present at the spot.

''There is a difference between being present and participation,'' commented the bench, after the Delhi Police admitted that Kanhaiya Kumar was not visible shouting slogans in the video, though independent witnesses testify that he was shouting slogans.

The bench noted that the status report and FIR indicated that policemen in plain clothes as well as the Station House Officer were stationed at the JNU gate at the time of the incident. ''Three policemen were there in civil dress. Don't they know what it means? Why did they not record the incident? Were they not supposed to take cognizance of issue?'' asked the bench.

The bench also asked why the SHO present at the spot had not asked for the video footage to be recorded. ''What were your men doing?'' asked the bench.

The police informed the court that ''independent witnesses'' had ''seen'' Kanhaiya at the spot ''raising anti national slogans''. The ASG also told the court that the police ''did not know'' about the ''independent video recorded by students of JNU, and ''got to know through news channel the next day''.

The police also said that apart from the footage from Zee TV, an ''independent video'' had been made with ''an iPhone6 by a JNU staff member on the request of the chief of security at the university. The police were unable to produce the transcript of the video before the court, and admitted that the CFSL had raised some objections after the phone had been sent to them.

Noting that the video had allegedly been made by a JNU employee, the bench asked the police why the details were not made available even in the status report filed by the police. ''Either don't mention the document or give the details'' commented the bench. The court also asked the police how it was defining ''sedition.'

''Everybody says 124A is very serious. Do you know what it is? It can be punishable with less than three years imprisonment or only fine or can be very serious,'' observed the court. The ASG then said that the offence varied from fine to life imprisonment according to the gravity of the offence.

''Does the video recording show he was raising slogans? He says he was present, but was he raising slogans?'' asked the court.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, arguing on behalf of Kanhaiya Kumar said that the offence of ''sedition'' could not be made out as the alleged sloganeering was ''inside a university campus which is not a public place''.

''How can something happening inside a university campus between two factions incite people outside to create law and order situation?'' asked Sibal. The assertion by the police that there were ''masked persons'' present at the protest also came under question by the bench, which asked how these ''masked men'' were allowed to leave from the gates.

''Did the security guards not maintain a register of who entered?'' asked the court, adding why the police personnel present at the JNU gates also ''did not take any steps'' to apprehend the ''masked persons.''

(Also see: JNU row: cops grill photocopy shop owner)