New Delhi: The Delhi Police Wednesday informed the Delhi High Court that it has registered over 500 cases concerning damage caused to public and private properties during the protests against the Citizens (Amendment) Act (CAA) in 2019 and 2020 and has initiated appropriate legal action against those involved in it.
The police, in an affidavit, said that the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court has appointed retired high court judge Justice Sunil Gaur as “claim commissioner” to investigate the damages and to award compensation relating to the riots that took place during the protest against CAA.
A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad listed the matter for further hearing on January 21, 2023, as the affidavit was not on record.
The high court was hearing public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an advocate and a law student, seeking direction to the authorities to identify the people who caused damage to public properties during the protests against the CAA in 2019 and 2020 and to recover damages from them.
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In response to the petition, the police filed an affidavit stating that “police has initiated appropriate legal action against the persons involved in causing damage to the public and private properties during the protest against CAA, 2019, in as much as 535 cases have been registered”.
It further said that during the entire period of protest against CAA/NRC (National Register of Citizens) and blockades of roads by the protestors, Delhi Police remained vigilant and cautious and took all necessary measures to ensure that the protest may not escalate and the protestors may not breach the law and order situation in the area under the garb of exercising the constitutional rights available with them.
“As and when the protestors tried to infringe the law and failed to obey the lawful directions of the enforcement agencies, appropriate legal action was taken against the rioters/miscreants,” the affidavit, filed through special public prosecutor Rajat Nair, said.
It further said that during the riots, the authorities acted promptly, vigilantly, and effectively without any fear or favour and in a professional manner to control the law and order situation in the affected areas and to save life and property of people.
The police said earnest efforts, including deployment of adequate force and involving respectable citizens of the area, were made to restore normalcy.
Due to the measures taken by the Delhi Police, the violence could be contained in a few days and was confined to a limited area and the investigation of these cases is being carried out in a professional and scientific manner under the monitoring of senior officers, it said, adding that from the start of violence in the area to till date, 758 cases have been registered.
The high court had earlier sought the response of the Centre, Delhi government, and police on the PIL in which petitioners, lawyer Hinu Mahajan and law student Amandeep Singh Gehlot, have also sought setting up of independent machinery to investigate the damages caused and to award compensation related to it.
Advocate Yudhvir Singh Chauhan, representing the petitioners, has sought direction that the government department and private persons, whose properties were damaged during the protests, shall be compensated for their loss and injuries by the persons involved in it.
The petitioners said they had visited various places of Delhi and were shocked and saddened to see the damages caused to public properties during the riots in favour or against the CAA.
The plea said the petitioners gave a representation to the Centre and Delhi government seeking recovery of damages from the concerned persons for causing damages to public properties by identifying them.
Communal clashes had broken out in north-east Delhi on February 24, 2020, after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 700 injured.