The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to entertain a batch of petitions seeking a judicial probe into alleged police atrocities against students at the Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University on Sunday.
The bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant said the apex court could not be expected to act like a “fact-finding team” or a “trial court”, but allowed the Jamia alumni association and other petitioners to approach their state high courts.
It added that the high courts concerned — of Delhi and Allahabad — would be free to decide all the issues raised by the petitioners, including the plea for a court-monitored probe headed by a retired Supreme Court or high court judge.
“Each of the incidents has happened in different places and different steps have been taken by different authorities and there are different grievances,” Justice Bobde remarked.
Later, the court said in a brief order: “Having regard to the nature of the matter and dispute, and the vast area over which the matter is spread, we do not think it is feasible to appoint one committee for this….”
Senior advocates Indira Jaising, Colin Gonzalves and Sanjay Hegde and advocate Mahmood Pracha, appearing for the petitioners, had urged the court to form a committee headed by a former Supreme Court judge to probe the alleged police excesses at Jamia and AMU. Such a move would “inspire confidence” among the victims, they said.
Solicitor-general Tushar Mehta disputed the petitioners’ allegations of large-scale arrests and injuries to students.
While the petitioners’ counsel alleged that several hundred students had been injured, many of them seriously, and that some were in jail, Mehta said “not a single student has been arrested or is in jail”.
He said that 67 people — students and police combined — had been injured in Sunday’s violence and been given the necessary medical aid.
“How many buses are burnt?” Justice Bobde asked Pracha, who said the facts would be known only after an inquiry.
“We are surprised. You are not aware of the facts and we are not a court of establishing fact. We can’t act as a fact-finding committee,” the Chief Justice said.
When the petitioners’ counsel insisted that it was the police who had resorted to violence, Justice Bobde shot back: “Can you expect police to remain calm when students are throwing stones?”
Jaising said the police must be directed to stop registering FIRs against the students to ensure the return of peace and normalcy.
However, Justice Bobde observed: “We are not prejudging the issue. But what can police do when somebody breaks the law or somebody is throwing stones on the buses?”