The Delhi High Court on Wednesday lashed out at the police for its handling of the recent violence in the northeastern part of the city. The court directed the police to take a "conscious decision" with respect to the lodging of FIRs against alleged hate speeches by three BJP leaders in connection with the CAA violence and convey its decision to the court by Thursday.
A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Anup J Bhambhani passed the order following a day-long hearing on a plea filed by advocate Colin Gonsalves on behalf of activist Harsh Mander seeking an FIR against BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma for making hate speeches, which allegedly instigated the violence.
The court took on record the assurance by special commissioner Praveer Ranjan that he will sit with the police commissioner and view all video clips and take a conscious decision on lodging of FIRs. The court also said that its order applies to all inflammatory speeches and not just the three BJP leaders.
The high court also issued notices to the parties concerned on the plea filed by the Centre seeking to be impleaded in the case.
The violence which started on Sunday following a clash between pro-CAA and anti-CAA protesters in Jaffrabad and spread to several parts in northeast Delhi since then has left 22 people dead and over 180 injured.
Court slams Delhi Police
During the hearing on the plea on Wednesday, the bench of Justices Murlidhar and Bhambhani also came down heavily on the Delhi Police, saying it is "amazed" at the police's state of affairs.
The court made the remarks after Deputy Commissioner of Police (crime branch) Rajesh Deo told a bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Talwant Singh that he had not seen the clip where BJP leader Mishra allegedly made a speech instigating violence in northeast Delhi.
During the hearing, the court asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared at the court on behalf of the Union government and represented the police officer, if they had seen the video clip of Mishra making alleged hate speeches.
While Mehta maintained that he does not watch television and has not seen those clips, Deo said he has watched the video of BJP leaders Thakur and Verma, but has not of Mishra.
On the submission made by the police officer, Justice Muralidhar remarked, "I am really amazed at the state of affairs of the Delhi Police", and asked the court staff to play Mishra's video clip in the courtroom.
Are you saying that even the Commissioner of Police has not seen the video related to one?
This is too serious a matter.
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) February 26, 2020
Deo had appeared in the court in the afternoon following the court seeking the presence of a senior police officer's presence in the court in the morning. Decide on FIR by Thursday: HC During the argument, Mehta said that the high court should wait for the response of the authorities concerned on the issue of lodging FIRs against alleged hate speeches by three BJP leaders. During the hearing, Mehta said any decision taken now may aggravate the situation. Delhi government's standing counsel Rahul Mehra contended however that there was no reason to not lodge the FIRs against the leaders. Mehra said that FIR ought to be lodged against everyone involved in the violence.
'The attackers belong to the party in power, while the police was a mute spectator. Such is the tragic state of affairs in this city', Colin Gonsalves#DelhiBurns #DelhiRiots — Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) February 26, 2020
According to Live Law, arguing on behalf of the petitioner, advocate Gonslaves said: "This is one of the most serious cases that has ever come before this court. They (the BJP leaders) not only gave speeches, their affiliated people went on to attack people while chanting 'Goli Maro Gaddaro Ko'. It has become such a popular slogan," he submitted after playing the BJP leader Thakur's speech for the court's viewing.
Besides Mishra, Verma and Thakur's speeches, the court also played video of another BJP leader Abhya Verma.
Anurag Thakur's video caused the ball to roll. It's just that one line. It's a very powerful video. That's the starting point: Gonsalves #DelhiRiots2020 #DelhiHighCourt @ianuragthakur @Anurag_Office @ColinGonsalves_ pic.twitter.com/7Evf4Z0kmO — Bar & Bench (@barandbench) February 26, 2020
"They're physically exhorting their supporters to take up arms he submmits," Gonsalves argued, according to LiveLaw, adding, "Police allowed people to get killed. They were protected by the party in power."
Objecting to Gonsalves argument, Mehta said that there has been selective public outrage on the three videos urged the court to not not exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction.
He also said the statements by BJP leaders Verma and Thakur were made several days back and it was not urgent to be heard today.
The court observed, "Does that not make it even more urgent. When the commissioner was made aware of such statements, does he need someone to approach him to take action? As a law officer, you answer whether this prayer (for lodging FIRs against three BJP leaders) is not urgent."
Mehta replied, "I am not saying it is not urgent, but it can wait till tomorrow."
Mehta also assured the court that FIRs will be filed in right time.
To which, Justice Murlidhar remarked: "What's the appropriate time, Mr Mehta? The city is burning."
As the hearing progressed, Justice Murlidhar directed his ire to the police, saying, "When you have multiple clips of inflammatory speeches, what are you waiting for? Why aren't you registering the FIR?..."
"Just register FIRs. You showed alacrity in lodging FIRs for arson; why aren't you showing the same for registering FIR for these speeches?...When you've registered FIRs for damages to property, why aren't you registering it for these speeches? Don't you want to even acknowledge the presence of a crime?
"When the SG himself is saying that these videos are inflammatory, why aren't you registering the FIRs? The entire nation is asking that question," Justice Mulridhar said while directing the police to inform the court of its decision on filing the FIR by Thursday.
Court Appoints Zubeda Begum as amicus curiae
On Wednesday morning, the court appointed advocate Zubeda Begum as amicus curiae to coordinate between the victims and various agencies.
It further asked the director of the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) to provide a sufficient number of qualified professionals to cater to the victims suffering from post-trauma stress.
The court has put up the matter for further hearing on 28 February.
The court said that the highest constitutional functionaries who move with Z-security should reach out to the affected people to give them confidence that law is functioning.
Don't want a repeat of the 1984 riots: HC
Hearing the plea in multiple sittings over Wednesday, the court observed in the morning that the police does not need its direction to take action in relation to the violence and that the police should take suo motu action as "this is very important"
"This is time to reach out and do confidence by building. We can't let another 1984 scenario happen in this city; not under the watch of this court," the bench observed, according to NDTV.
The matter was mentioned for urgent hearing before Justice Muralidhar's bench as the bench headed by the Chief Justice was not holding the court on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, the court had told Central Government's standing counsel Amit Mahajan representing Delhi Police Commissioner that since they were served with an advanced copy of the petition they should come with instructions during the day.
It also issued notices to the Delhi government, Delhi Police Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Police of northeast Delhi.
The petition filed by Mander and activist Farah Naqvi also sought setting up of a special investigation (SIT) team to inquire into the incident and compensation for those killed and injured in the violence.
The petitioners had also sought directions to the Centre for the deployment of the Army to maintain law and order in the national capital and areas where the "communal attack on people are most ferocious", but the court refused to pass any order on that.
The matter will be heard again on Thursday.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Feb 27, 2020 07:44:23 IST