The Supreme Court of India, tasked with deciding whether or not BJP leaders should be booked for inciting Delhi riots, on Wednesday got sidetracked at the beginning of the hearing as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta alleged that Harsh Mander, one of the petitioners, also gave an inflammatory speech. The bench, visibly irked at the former IAS officer's comments declined to hear his plea until the matter about his comments is 'sorted'. The court will hear the matter of Mander's speech on Friday, 6 March.
The Centre brought to the notice of a bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde and justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant the alleged hate speeches made by Mander.
Mehta adduced transcripts of Mandar's reported speech at the Jamia Millia Islamia university, wherein he reportedly said that there is no trust left in the courts and that ultimate justice has to be on the streets. Mehta cited a video clip of Mander and said that he is seen to have "called on the people of India" and is heard saying that "real justice will be done on the streets"
The Supreme Court taking umbrage to the alleged speech, told Mander's lawyer Karuna Nundy, "If this is what he feels about the courts then it will have to be decided first whether he should be given a hearing at all," Utkarsh Anand reported.
Mehta said that it was apparent that inflammatory speeches were made by both sides. "Lets not forget that these people are abusing these forums," he said referring to Mander.
Nundy, meanwhile, denied these allegations and sought time to verify the alleged hate speech, but Mehta said, "It is strange that he wants time for verifying his own speech but wants FIRs against everyone immediately."
The CJI refused to act upon Mander's petition and told his lawyer, Nundy, that she will first have to disprove claims of the hate speeches made by her client before her petition can be heard, Live Law reported.
"The allegations against Mander are serious. The court will not hear Mander till the issue on allegations against him is sorted out," said the CJI.
Mehta also interjected at this point stating that Gonsalves too had represented Mander in High Court but is now arguing on behalf of other petitioners without a full disclaimer.
"They have now filed a new petition through other people because they have realised they have themselves made inflammatory speeches. These riot victims are only sponsored and instigated by Mander," he said.
The bench, however, said that they should be careful with the usage of words. The Bench asked Mehta whether he meant to say that anyone who seems to represent Mander or is guided by him does not have the right to approach the courts.
"We cannot refuse someone the right to argue because he represented or is guided by Harsh Mander," the bench said.
The court asked Mehta to file a separate affidavit concerning Mander's speech. Mehta agreed and said he would file the affidavit in the post-lunch session with the apex court registry and serve the copy to the lawyer of Mander. Mehta was also asked to submit full transcript and video of the said speech.
Nundy, however, denied that the activist made any such hate speeches as alleged by the Centre and urged the court to schedule the hearing against Mander on a later date, citing the fact that he was travelling. But the Supreme Court shot down the request and scheduled to hear the matter against Mander on Friday.
Here's what Harsh Mander said
Mehta alleged that Mander incited the crowd urging them to decide India's future on its streets. He also quoted an excerpt where Mander allegedly claimed that he does not believe in the Supreme Court.
However, a complete video of the speech gives context to the quote and reveals that the former IAS officer, in fact, made an appeal against violence and had exhorted the crowd to shun attempts to polarise them. Here is a transcript of the relevant part of his speech.
"This war can’t be won in the Parliament because our political parties that call themselves secular no longer have that sort of righteousness and courage to fight this war. This war can’t be won in the Supreme Court either, because we have seen the court in the past few cases — like NRC, Kashmir, CAA, etc — has failed to protect humanity and our Constitution. (We will try to get justice in the courts, definitely, because it is our court of law. But the decision won’t happen in Parliament, nor in the courts.) You are the youth of this country and the decision of this country’s future will be taken on the streets as we had to take to the streets for this cause. But above that, this decision will be made in our hearts. Yours and my heart. If they want to instill hatred in our hearts, we can’t answer with more hatred. We have to respond to darkness with light.... We have to shun this hatred and preach love. Always remember, anybody who instigates you for violence cannot be your ally.”
Updated Date: Mar 04, 2020 17:02:38 IST