NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Friday sought a response from the Lieutenant Governor (LG) and the Union of India over an Aam Admi Party’s plea challenging the decision of LG allowing Delhi police’s chosen lawyers as Special Public Prosecutors (SPP) for the cases related to North East Delhi violence and farmers protest.

The bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh on Friday issued notice to the LG and Union of India through the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the matter and slated it for October 21, 2021.

The petition stated that under the orders of LG dated July 23, 2021, and the Ministry of Home Affairs on August 4, 2021, Special Public Prosecutors (“SPP”) have been appointed for prosecuting the cases relating to Farmers’ agitation and Delhi riots, anti-CAA protests.

These SPPs appointed have been chosen by the Delhi Police and thus have a serious conflict of interest. The SPPs are taking charge of the matters by displacing the regular public prosecutors and therefore, urgent directions are required from the Court to enable the regular public prosecutors to continue so as to not jeopardize fair trial in the said cases.

The plea submitted that the ‘difference of opinion’ and consequent referral thereof to the President by LG is in the teeth of Article 239AA(4) as interpreted by the Supreme Court in as much as ‘appointment of SPPs’ is a routine matter and not an exceptional matter for which reference to the President can be made and LG had no sound reason for referring the matter to the President when the petitioner had agreed to appoint independent SPPs, the plea added.

Additional Standing Counsel for Delhi government Advocate Shadan Farasat said the appointment of the SPPs chosen by the Delhi Police in the present case will seriously jeopardise fair trial in the cases related to farmers’ agitation and North-East Delhi riots/anti-CAA protests. The LG’s belief that the SPPs chosen by the Delhi Police will act independently is merely wishful thinking, and has no basis in fact or logic, he added.

In the present case, neither the Delhi Police nor the LG has complaints against the work of the regular public prosecutors in conducting the cases related to the farmers’ agitation and northeast Delhi riots. There are also no complaints that the cases are being delayed due to an inadequate number of public prosecutors. Thus, there existed no reason for the Delhi police to seek an appointment of SPPs or LG to approve the same, the plea said.

The appointment of special public prosecutors (SPPs) for cases pertaining to the North East Delhi violence and farmers protest has emerged as the new sticking point between the Delhi government and Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.