Supreme Court relief for Chidambaram on crackdown (Lead)

July 25th, 2011 - 8:16 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) In an apparent relief to Home Minister P. Chidambaram, the Supreme Court Monday declined to issue notice to him on a plea that he sanctioned the police crackdown on yoga guru Baba Ramdev and his supporters after June 4 midnight here.

Judges B.S. Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar, while declining to entertain the plea by Baba Ramdev, said the court was not inclined to broaden the scope of the case and wanted it to be limited to the police action.

Justice Chauhan told senior counsel Ram Jethamalani, appearing for Ramdev: “We don’t want to expand the scope of the proceedings. We don’t think it is necessary to issue notice to him (Chidambaram)”.

The court said that its concern was to know what were the circumstances that led to the police action, to ensure similar attacks on innocent and sleeping people are not repeated.

“We want to hold the person responsible for this action. We will not go into political consideration (of the crackdown),” the judge said.

Hundreds of security personnel cracked down on the Ramlila ground in the heart of the capital in a bid to arrest Baba Ramdev and disperse thousands of his supporters.

The widely criticized crackdown left dozens injured, with one woman suffering serious spinal injuries.

The court will Aug 5 view the two-hour footage of the police crackdown. Counsel for Ramdev and officials of the home ministry, Delhi government as well as Delhi Police would be present at the screening.

The court said that it would hold a final hearing on the matter Aug 8 and 16. The judges made it clear they did not want to prolong the hearing.

The court directed all the contending parties to file replies and rejoinders well before that. It gave three days’ time to the central and Delhi governments and Delhi Police to file their response.

The Delhi Police chief told the court that though Ramlila ground was booked by Ramdev’s aides for a yoga camp, it was converted into a protest against corruption.

Though the yoga camp was to be held from 5 to 7.30 a.m., it did not last for more than half hour on the first day.

The police chief affidavit also said that there were intelligence reports that Ramdev was being targeted to disrupt communal harmony.

By June 4 evening, police said, the situation at the ground became serious from the point of view of “public order”.

There were intelligence reports that a large number of people were being mobilized to reach Delhi and it became apparent that the gathering at Ramlila ground would increase manifold by June 5 morning.

“Since such a large crowd could not fit into the Ramlila ground, there was danger of stampede, and also that the crowd would spill into highly sensitive neighbourhood,” police said.

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