THE 1999 BMW hit-and-run case, the Jessica Lall killing of 1999 and the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder of 2012 figure among “sensational cases” listed by the Delhi Police, before a committee set up on orders of the Delhi High Court, while opposing the AAP government’s decision to allow bars and clubs to operate till 3 am.
The police also told the Joint Consultative Committee (JCC), which was constituted to iron out differences between the Excise department and the police, that the national capital has “reflected ugly and irresponsible behaviour” of people under the influence of alcohol late in the night.
Apart from listing two-decade-old cases, the police submitted data regarding crimes and road accidents that have taken place between midnight and 5 am over the past six years to buttress its argument. The report of the JCC was placed before Justice Yashwant Varma in the Delhi High Court on Tuesday. Since the report was not on record before the court, it listed the matter for hearing on November 23.
In meetings of the JCC held in June and July, the police said that cities in the National Capital Region (NCR) cannot be compared with the demography of Delhi, which has offices and residences of VVIPS, diplomats and foreign delegates. The police said that women’s safety is a “big concern” late at night. There is also an acute shortage of manpower in the department, they said.
The Excise department submitted before the panel that night life in the city is important to give a world-class experience to visitors, especially tourists. But the police, through Joint CP (Licensing) Dr O P Mishra, said the importance of law and order, availability of public transport, and adequate traffic police presence during late hours, must be taken into consideration.
“Before thinking of increasing operational timings of bars in restaurants, one needs to change mindset of the people; sensitize and educate the people well in advance beside the issue of resources like availability of public transport, etc,” Meenu Choudhary, Joint CP, Southern Range, who was a participant in one of the meetings, told the panel. Delhi Special Secretary (Home) Ajay Kumar Gupta told the JCC that considering the assessment and constraints of the Delhi Police, a selective and gradual approach to the extension of time can be considered.
“Approximately 170 bars/ restaurants are already operational 24 hours a day in Delhi duly approved by the Excise Department and Licensing Department of the Delhi Police. Similarly, permission may be granted for extension of time in the approved, developed commercial areas in the first stage which may subsequently be extended to the other areas by which time the resources to maintain law and order and other requirements are further augmented,” said Gupta.
On Tuesday, the counsel representing the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) told the court there is confusion regarding terms which licensees will have to abide by, while referring to the ongoing controversy surrounding the Excise policy. The NRAI had earlier approached court seeking a direction to restrain Delhi Police from interfering with their operations. While Delhi’s Excise policy allows restaurants to operate till 3 am, police have allowed restaurants to operate between 5 am and 1 am, and 24 hours for one restaurant or coffee shop in all 5-star hotels throughout the year.