NEW DELHI— The Arvind Kejriwal government of Delhi has been slammed for appointment of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta as special public prosecutor (SPP) to argue the cases related to the end-February riots of the national capital in which over 50 people were killed.
Senior lawyer of the Supreme Court Prashant Bhushan and Swaraj India president Yogendra Yadav, both former colleagues of Kejriwal in the Anna Hazare movement, have openly criticized the Aam Aadmi Party government of the city over the appointment of Mehta.
“Why would Kejriwal appoint Tushar Mehta as Delhi govt’s special counsel in the Delhi riots cases, when it is clear that the police is victimizing peaceful anti-CAA activists & we need a fair counsel? Because he is totally amoral in his politics & will sup with devil if it suits him,” said Bhushan in a tweet Monday morning.
In the massive violence between February 24-26 that erupted after days of provocative and instigating speeches of some BJP leaders, particularly Kapil Mishra targeting the anti-CAA protests, around 53 people were killed and several hundreds wounded. Thousands of houses, shops and vehicles were gutted in the areas pre-dominantly inhabited by the Muslim community.
Since the Coronavirus-driven lockdown was imposed in Delhi and across the country on March 24, several people including some popular young faces of the anti-CAA protests were booked under stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and sent behind bars. Civil society leaders and human rights activists have condemned the Delhi Police for these arrests.
The Delhi Police, which comes under the central government currently ruled by BJP, have not yet filed FIR against the BJP leaders for their controversial speeches ahead of the Delhi violence.
As Mehra’s appointment spiralled into a big controversy, the Kejriwal government said his appointment was forced on them and he wasn’t their choice. But Yogendra Yadav went to Twitter on Sunday and quoted from the Delhi High Court order which, he said, “nails the lie of Arvind Kejriwal government.”
“The HC order conclusively nails the lie of @ArvindKejriwal govt that appointment of Tushar Mehta was made against its will. Read: Delhi Govt asserts that its right to appoint counsel, says Satender Jain has issued these orders, centre accepts it, court thanks both for cooperating.”
Not only Bhushan and Yadav, Congress leaders have also cornered the Kejriwal government over the issue.
Senior Congress leader Ajay Maken equated Kejriwal’s AAP with BJP after Mehra’s appointment.
“AAP=BJP IS OFFICIAL NOW. Uploaded Delhi HC orders at two places have clearly mentioned Kejriwal Govt Minister approval of Tushar Mehta and Aman Lekhi (husband of @M_Lekhi) to represent in Delhi HC in Delhi riots case! सैयां भये कोतवाल, अब डर काहे का,” tweeted Maken.
Aman Lekhi is husband of lawyer and BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi.
Mehta is already in the line of fire from the press fraternity and others for using the word “vulture” and “prophets of doom” for critics of the poor way the central government has handled the Coronavirus crisis.
Senior journalist Barkha Dutt said: “The Solicitor General may think I’m a prophet of doom or a vulture. (I am an old bird). But to gloss over tragedy or reality is not to offer Hope. It is abdication, both moral & professional. Mr Mehta has it wrong on Migrant Workers.”
Barkha was perhaps the first journalist who criss-crossed several states highlighting the plight of migrant workers who were forced to walk towards their distant homes during the lockdown.
NDTV’s anchor Sanket tweeted: “SG’s comment in SC is an insult to every person in this country showing empathy. He compares journalists reporting on the crisis to ‘vultures’. Says ‘prophets of doom spreading negativity’. Who is the vulture? Those who report? Or those who ignore?”
Kejriwal was criticized for doing pretty little to control the violence when it took place in the last week of February. He had led his team to Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial Rajghat praying for peace, rather than to the areas of violence. He, however, visited the areas later and announced relief measures. Kejriwal again faced flak for removing MLA Amanatullah Khan as chairman of Delhi Waqf Board when he was leading relief and rehabilitation work of the board in the violence-affected affected areas.