‘Innocent until proven guilty’ is a rule of law followed in almost every civlised nation. However, soon-to-retire Delhi Police Chief BS Bassi would like us to believe otherwise. In the ongoing movement for free speech that Jawaharlal Nehru University has become part of, with some students being accused of sedition, Bassi reportedly said, “They should join the probe. If they say they are innocent, they should present evidence of innocence.”
While a few students the police was hunting for were absconding from campus for a few days, they did not run away from the law. However, the police said that the students must “surrender”. Not only is this absurd, coming from someone whose job is to protect citizens, it is highly disturbing as well. Student leader Kanhaiya Kumar (already in jail) and later on Umar Khalid have both said that they did not raise seditious slogans and the video clips aired by the media seem to be doctored.
Even if you discount the argument that words don’t amount to sedition unless accompanied by violence, what Bassi and his force should be doing is collecting irrefutable evidence before arresting the students. Instead, he has gone against an important tenet that Indian jurisprudence has thankfully long held inviolate.