‘Calls from special cell cops, unauthorised bank access’: Trust that approached SC on Delhi tree-felling

The New Delhi Nature Society claimed the action has forced the trust’s president to live under constant fear.

WrittenBy:Pratyush Deep
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A trust that approached the Supreme Court over unauthorised felling of trees in Delhi’s Ridge area has now alleged harassment by the Delhi police special cell while the court was hearing the matter. 

In an interlocutory application on Wednesday, the New Delhi Nature Society has claimed that the police accessed its bank statements without authorisation, that it got several phone calls from the police, and that the special cell knocked the door of the society’s president, Varhaan Khanna, to ask about the second petitioner in the matter.

The society and activist Bindu Kapurea are the two petitioners in the matter. They claim to have no connection with each other. 

On June 24, the case made headlines after the court also questioned the role of Delhi  L-G VK Saxena, who is the chairman of the authority, as emails of DDA officials referred to a “site visit by the L-G” and his purported direction to “clear the trees”. The court saw the DDA’s action as contempt since trees were cut without waiting for the court’s permission in a protected area.

The trust has claimed that the police’s actions are a “counterblast” to the case, causing the trust’s president to “live under constant fear for his life and liberty”. It also sought to include the Delhi police commissioner and two bank officials in the case.

“The applicant has been mentally harassed to such an extent that he now fears for his life and safety,” it read. “It appears that the directions passed by this hon’ble court in the above matters have not gone well with certain high-ranking officials who are now resorting to intimidation and coercion. This exercise, which is clearly a counterblast to the said petitions being filed before this hon’ble court, is a direct interference in the administration of justice and constitutes criminal contempt.”

‘Visits, phone calls and unauthorised bank requests’

The trust claimed that an “unknown” person in civilian clothes, claiming to be from Delhi Police’s special cell, allegedly visited the house of its president on June 5 to seek details about the founder. “The said unknown person then asked in Hindi vernacular, ‘What does Bindu Kapurea do at the trust?’ The applicant asked what the inquiry was for, but no answer was provided.” It claimed that this person also asked whether the trust’s president had filed any other petition before the Supreme Court.

The next day, the trust began receiving multiple email notifications from Axis Bank, stating that certain requests had been processed, it claimed. Since no such requests had been made, the trust inquired with the bank and was informed that an authority had requested for bank statements.

On the same day, the trust’s president received two phone calls, one from a person identifying himself as special cell sub-inspector Mahipal and the second by one Somveer, it claimed, adding that both asked similar questions.

“The said official asked how and where a trust is registered. The applicant asked the inspector if someone from his office had visited him yesterday (05.06.2024), to which he replied ‘yes’ and stated that it might be Mr Devender. The official asked questions regarding the trust’s registration, to which the applicant requested that the queries be sent in writing,” the application read.

Between June 7 and June 10, the trust sent multiple requests to the bank seeking information on the “unauthorised requests” for account statements. The bank’s branch manager showed a letter from the special cell ACP seeking the trust’s bank statements but refused to provide a copy of the letter, it claimed.

A “fraudulent” grievance was registered “impersonating” the president of the trust on Delhi’s e-district portal on June 12, it claimed, adding that the police refused to file an FIR in the matter. 

Amid these events, it claimed, the bank sent an email on June 20 attaching a copy of a notice issued under Section 91 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, by the office of the special cell ACP seeking the trust’s bank statements, citing an FIR registered at the Special Cell in March 2023. “The applicant searched for the said FIR on the Delhi Police website; however, it was not available,” the application read.

On July 5, the trust  visited the special cell’s office to seek a copy of the FIR, it claimed. “The officer present at the station took the applicant’s mobile phone and also attempted to take the advocate’s mobile phone. The advocate advised the applicant to wait outside with the phone. However, the officials present refused to provide a copy of the FIR,” it claimed.

It claimed it was not connected to the FIR mentioned in the notice and that they are being harassed for “bringing the gross violation of the orders” of the court to the attention of the court.

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