The Supreme Court on Monday sought an explanation from the Delhi Police regarding the midnight crackdown at a camp organised by yoga guru Baba Ramdev against corruption. The court also questioned the need for resorting to teargas shells and lathi-charge in a closed enclosure, where people were sleeping.
A bench of Justices B S Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar asked for responses from the Delhi Home Secretary and the Delhi Police, while posting the case for hearing on July 25.
Referring to Ramdev’s reply in support of his claim that a yoga camp was on at Ramlila Maidan, the bench observed that there are documents and DVDs to show that yoga was undertaken.
The court said it may even view over 30 hard disks of footage to help determine what really happened at the site.
Ramdev had, in his reply, blamed Home Minister P Chidambaram for the entire incident, saying the decision to arrest him was taken well in advance. The yoga guru asked the court to issue a notice to the Home Minister personally.
While the court asked for a reply from the Home ministry, no clarification has been sought from Chidambaram personally.
The government had said that instead of a mass-yoga class for 5,000 people, for which the permission was sought, there were close to 65,000 people present on the grounds.
Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Ramdev, said a detailed response was required from the police on why they used water-cannons and teargas, putting Ramdev’s followers at the Maidan in harm’s way. He termed the police action as “murder of democracy”.
The court told senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the Delhi Police, that it was not satisfied with several issues regarding the crackdown, especially that no FIR was filed on Ramdev’s complaint against the police action.
The court had earlier issued notice to the Baba Ramdev-run Bharat Swabhiman Trust, which had organised the camp at the Ramlila Maidan.
The Delhi Police had staunchly denied use of excess force against the yoga guru’s followers in their midnight eviction on June 4.
In its affidavit, police had denied resorting to lathi-charge during the alleged crackdown and said they were “constrained” to act as they feared the crowd was “going out of control”.
Police justified their action by claiming that they had resorted to force after facing the full fury of several thousands of the yoga guru’s supporters, who had started “throwing brickbats”.
A vacation bench of the Supreme Court had on May 6 taken suo motu cognisance of the forceful eviction and tear gassing the police had resorted to.