A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde while hearing a batch of petitions against the police crackdown on students at Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), said this court is not a trial court to ascertain the facts of the case. The bench directed the petitioners to approach the High Courts within whose jurisdiction the incidents have occurred. The High Courts should be approached first on pleas where police are alleged of violence and atrocities on persons against the amended Citizenship Act, said the bench.
The bench further said that it is confident that appropriate inquiries will be made. The High Court may appoint former Judges of the Supreme Court to conduct an inquiry after hearing the Union of India and the concerned State Government also.
“We are not in a position to spend time in ascertaining facts, you should approach the lower courts first,” said CJI.
The bench didn’t accede to the demands of the petitioners for urgently listing the matter related to the newly amended Citizenship Act. “The incidents are being reported from different parts of the country, different incidents in different places called for different steps to be taken by different authorities,” the bench told senior advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who mentioned the matter for an urgent hearing.
Beginning the arguments on behalf of the petitioners, senior counsel Indira Jaising said, “There is a siege in Jamia and AMU and the democratic right to peaceful protest should be upheld, Counsels to the Supreme Court.”
Responding to Justice Bobde’s remark that the court will hear the matter only when there is no rioting and peace prevails, Indira Jaising said, “If you want peace, then FIRs cannot be filed against innocent students and thrown into jail. I’m seeking relief in the way of peace measures.”
To this CJI retorted, “If stones are being pelted at people, should FIR not be filed?
“I’m seeking no coercive action to be taken against students. It is an established law that Universities are private properties under the guardianship of Vice-Chancellor, the police have no right to trespass the university without VC’s authorization,” contended Jaising.
She asked the court to issue directions for free humanitarian medical aid to all the injured students.
She drew the attention of the court to one of the interns of senior counsel Gonsalves, who lost eyesight. “There is a situation now where the university is shut down prior to the date scheduled, where are they to go now in the dead of winter,” asked Jaising.
CJI told Jaising to establish her facts before the High Court. Our Chief Justices of respective High Courts will take appropriate action and pass requisite action and then if you still have some reservations or concerns, you can approach us. Let us have the benefit of High Court orders,” said CJI.
Indira Jaising argued if this is not a fact-finding court, then some agency can be appointed for this task. She suggested retired judges can be appointed as they inspire confidence of the students.