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SPPs’ appointment: Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal, Centre file affidavits in Delhi HC

It has been stated in the affidavit that the said appointments, in no manner, have a bearing on the competence or independence of the prosecutor who is an 'officer of the Court' and fulfills the duty of efficiently assisting the Court.

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Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and the Centre in their common affidavit have informed the Delhi High Court that the appointment of additional Special Public Prosecutors (SPPs) have been made for an “efficient, speedy and just prosecution” of the cases concerning the North-East Delhi riots and the farmers’ protests, which are highly sensitive in nature and affected the unity and integrity of the nation at large. 

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh is seized of a plea moved by the ruling AAP government in Delhi challenging the L-G’s decision to allow a panel of lawyers chosen by the Delhi Police as SPPs for cases related to last year’s Republic Day violence and 2020’s communal riots that shook Delhi.

The L-G, in his affidavit, contended that the alleged appointments have not been made in routine matters, but are rather case specific arising out of cases involving matters of grave national concern affecting the ‘public order’ at large and thereby, required effective prosecution to restore the faith of the general public in the law-and-order machinery.

It has been stated in the affidavit that the said appointments, in no manner, have a bearing on the competence or independence of the prosecutor who is an ‘officer of the Court’ and fulfills the duty of efficiently assisting the Court.

Claiming that the petition deserves to be dismissed with cost for being steeped in malafides and an erroneous understanding of law surrounding the exercise of powers by the L-G and the Centre, the Bench’s attention has been drawn to the Proviso to Article 239 AA(4) wherein the Centre is empowered to retain a comprehensive control over the affairs of the capital in cases involving difference of opinion between the L-G and the Council of Ministers over legislative affairs of Delhi. 

The reply has been filed in response to the notice issued  by the Bench in August last year seeking the stand of the L-G  and the Centre on the issue. 

At the outset, the LG and the Ministry of Home Affairs, vide orders issued in July 23 and August 4 last year, had notified appointment of SPPs for prosecuting the said cases. 

The Delhi Government has alleged that the appointment of police-chosen lawyers as SPPs would jeopardize fairness of trial in the cases related to North-East Delhi riots and farmers’ agitation.

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