The Supreme Court will take up on Tuesday the alleged police atrocities on protesting students at the Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University on Sunday.
Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, however, said all sides must first stop the violence over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, because the court would not be “bullied” into hearing the matter amid continuing mayhem.
“It does not matter who is doing it. All this, including the destruction of public property, including buses, must stop,” he said. “We will decide the issue in a cool atmosphere. We are not going to be bullied.”
Senior advocates Indira Jaising, Colin Gonzalves and Salman Khursheed had assembled at the Chief Justice’s court at 10.30am during the customary “mention time” and sought urgent hearing of the police violence on the two campuses.
“If the protest, violence, destruction of public property is going on, we will not hear the matter,” the bench, which included Justices Bhushan Gavai and Surya Kant, said.
Jaising said the students were innocent and the police had entered the university illegally and beaten them up. “We want rioting to stop before we hear the matter,” Justice Bobde said.
“But no one can stop a peaceful demonstration,” Jaising argued. “Rioting is being engineered and buses are being burnt by the police, who are putting the blame on the students.”
Policemen had entered the Jamia campus in Delhi without permission on Sunday evening and gone on the rampage, thrashing students and beating a woman BBC reporter, students and university officials have said.
The police had barged into AMU late at night and used batons and tear gas on students protesting against the amended citizenship law.
She said: “We need an investigation and someone to account for the violence.”
Jaising suggested a committee of retired Supreme Court judges be appointed to probe the police assault. But Justice Bobde said the police could not alone have unleashed the violence.
“Just because you are a student, you don’t have the right to disturb peace and indulge in violence,” he said.
The court later decided to take the matter up on Tuesday and said interested parties should file their petitions on the subject.
The bench also said it would consider taking up on Wednesday a batch of petitions challenging the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, after senior counsel Abhishek Singhvi requested urgent hearing of one such plea from Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.
At least 13 other people or organisations have challenged the law as unconstitutional.