Lack of faith of Delhi Police on its designated counsel in the case of missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmad today drew the ire of the Delhi High Court which made the senior cop apologise to the lawyer in the court room.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Deepa Sharma said the police had its designated senior standing counsel Rahul Mehra to represent them before the court, so they need to inform him about each development about the cases in order to represent them in a better manner.
"It is not appropriate to hide things from the counsel, who has been authorised to represent you (Delhi Police) in the cases. You will have to brief them about the developments in the investigation of a case and have to come to the court through them only. If you are not doing so, it is a very sorry state of affairs," the bench remarked.
"Therefore, you should apologise to the counsel," the court said and asked the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime), who was present in person in the court, to do so.
On being asked to do so, DCP (Crime) Ramgopal Naik apologised to Mehra, who has been representing the police in the case of the 27-year-old missing JNU student, whose whereabouts are unknown for the last six months.
When the hearing began, Mehra informed the court that he wants to recuse from the case as the investigating officer has denied him access to a report filed in a sealed cover.
The lawyer said the police thinks he was coming in their way and therefore, he should be discharged, as such conduct raises questions on his integrity.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for Najeeb's mother Fatima Nafees, objected to Mehra's stand to recuse himself from the case, saying the police officials should apologise to the counsel as it is they who have failed in their duty to trace the boy.
Taking note of this, the bench asked the DCP, if they can see the report, why can't it be handed over to the counsel.
Naik said police has got the report of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Hyderabad, with regard to the JNU student's mobile phone and laptop in a sealed cover.
"There is also a call detail record of the nine students in connection with the case," the officer said, adding that the same cannot be given to the counsel in view of the seriousness of the matter and in the interests of justice.
"We have a doubt that it may be tampered with," he told the court while informing it that the "sealed document is only for the eyes of the court and not for him (Mehra)".
The police officer, however, said the counsel can have a look at it during the hearing.
Strongly objecting to this, the bench noted that unless the Delhi Police Commissioner makes his stand clear about its lawyer, they will not open the sealed cover.
"How can the police show lack of faith in the counsel, duly designated by the high authorities to represent them, in a court of law," the bench said.
The lawyer, however, said he will personally meet the Commissioner and explore possibilities in the interest of justice. "So the court should adjourn the matter, before passing any order," he submitted.
The bench the fixed the matter for tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Gonsalves moved an application before the court to disband Delhi Police's special investigation team (SIT), set up in October at the Centre's direction and constitute a fresh team of SIT.
He said the history of the case shows their "collusion" with the nine accused students.
The court was hearing the student's mother's plea to trace her son, who has been missing since October 15 last year after an alleged scuffle at his JNU hostel with ABVP activists the previous night. The RSS students' wing in JNU has denied any involvement in his disappearance.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)