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Pat for cops after rap

New Delhi, Jan. 31: The Supreme Court today said Delhi police had acted in a “balanced” and “swift” manner in defusing the situation arising from Arvind Kejriwal’s dharna, a week after it rapped the force for allowing the protest in violation of prohibitory orders.

The court accepted the argument of the police that had it used force on Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) demonstrators, there would have been a heavy backlash and a serious law-and-order problem that could have jeopardised Republic Day celebrations besides loss of life and property.

“We will not go into the sufficiency of the action. Obviously, they (the police) have acted swiftly. FIR has been registered and at the dharna site additional forces deployed,” a bench of Justices R.M. Lodha and Shiva Kirti Singh said after going through an affidavit filed by a senior officer in response to a court directive.

The bench observed that in such a crisis, the police was better equipped to deal with the situation and observe restraint as it had to keep in mind the rights of citizens as well as the duties of the state.

The affidavit, by the deputy commissioner of police (headquarters), mentions that Kejriwal “did not pay any heed” to repeated requests not to violate prohibitory orders banning the assembly of five or more persons at the high-security site near Parliament.

“The court will not substitute its wisdom because these are actions which the administration and the executive are better equipped to deal with. They have acted responsibly. There is no laxity,” Justice Lodha, heading the bench said while accepting the affidavit submitted by additional-solicitor general Siddharth Luthra on the police’s behalf.

On January 24, the court had slammed Delhi police for permitting Kejriwal’s dharna and said every authority was governed by the Constitution and had to act in accordance with the statute.

“Every institution is a product of the Constitution. Every individual who holds constitutional office is governed by the Constitution,” the court had said, seeking the responses of the Union and Delhi governments on a PIL seeking criminal prosecution of Kejriwal and his law minister Somnath Bharti over the protest.

Today, when N. Rajaraman, an advocate who has filed the PIL, argued that the cops did not take combative measures against the leaders, the bench countered by saying the police could not be expected to use force in every situation. “Look, there is no destruction. You want shoot at sight orders? You must understand the psyche of police. You cannot expect them to adopt coercive action always.”