Supreme Court asks Government to explain the midnight attack on Baba

The Supreme Court has taken suo motu notice of Saturday night crackdown on Baba Ramdev’s protests and issued notices to the Delhi Government secretary, Home secretary and the Delhi police commissioner seeking their explanations.

The notices have come even before Baba Ramdev had to push ahead with his threat of launching legal challenges to the crack down.

The issue of notices took place when an advocate, Ajay Aggarwal, approached the Court with a public interest litigation. At this point, the Court told the advocate that the Court was already seized of the situation and was issuing suo motu notices.

The Court said they needed no assistance from advocates to pursue this matter and the Judges also remarked that they too had seen the newspapers and seen it on TV in the morning. “The Court is fully aware of its responsibilities,” a two-Judge bench said a few minutes ago, giving two weeks for a reply.

Constitutional and political experts have both criticised the midnight attack on sleeping protesters by the Delhi Police, controlled by the Congress-led National Government.

Former Solicitor General Soli Sorabjee wondered what was the “strong justification” for such a dramatic act. “The situation has been obviously mishandled. First they give him grand royal treatment and there after in the dark hours of the night, police swoop down.. and send him off.. They want to know what reason they cracked down.. They have violated the liberty of a person, there has to be a strong justification for the action,” he said.

Issuing notice is the first step in a legal proceeding and requires the recipients to furnish their replies to the Court’s queries. Suo Motu indicates that the Court has chosen to initiate proceedings on its own, without any prompting by any litigant — a procedure followed for important matters.

Under India’s constitution, citizens have the fundamental right to protest government policies as long as it is done in a peaceful manner.

The government has argued that the protest was illegal since Baba did not seek prior permission. The Court is likely to ask why a midnight action on nearly 25,000 sleeping people using tear-gas was necessary.

The Supreme Court is separately hearing another petition on government inaction on confiscating illegal funds in India and abroad — suspected to belong to corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen.