Hearing pleas on Delhi riots, SC terms 4-weeks delay in hearing hate speech case 'concerning', asks Delhi HC to take up matter on 6 March

Hearing petitions seeking FIRs against BJP leaders for hate speech, the Supreme Court on Wednesday frowned upon the Delhi High Court's decision to defer the sensitive matter by a month. The apex court, however, did not see it fit to issue any other directions to the high court and referred all related petitions to it.

FP Staff March 04, 2020 16:38:29 IST
Hearing pleas on Delhi riots, SC terms 4-weeks delay in hearing hate speech case 'concerning', asks Delhi HC to take up matter on 6 March
  • The Supreme Court, hearing the pleas seeking FIRs against BJP leaders for hate speech, frowned upon the Delhi High Court's decision to defer the sensitive matter for a month

  • The apex court, however, did not see it fit to issue any other directions to the HC and referred all related petitions to it

  • The court also observed that timing may not be 'conducive' to arrest leaders for alleged hate speeches

Hearing petitions seeking FIRs against BJP leaders for hate speech, the Supreme Court on Wednesday frowned upon the Delhi High Court's decision to defer the sensitive matter by a month. The apex court, however, did not see it fit to issue any other directions to the high court and referred all related petitions to it. The court also observed that timing may not be "conducive" to arrest leaders for alleged hate speeches.

A bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant said, "The high court may explore the possibility of peaceful resolutions of the disputes."

The apex court was hearing petitions demanding FIR against BJP leaders Anurag Thakur, Kapil Mishra, Parvesh Verma for their hate speeches. The above observation came after senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, representing the riot victims, told the bench that the Delhi High Court has deferred the pleas on Delhi violence for four weeks despite the fact that "people are still dying". "When people are still dying then why can't the high court hear it urgently," he had told the Supreme Court.

Here is what the Supreme Court noted:

Hearing pleas on Delhi riots SC terms 4weeks delay in hearing hate speech case concerning asks Delhi HC to take up matter on 6 March

File image of the Supreme Court. AP

On Delhi HC's long deferment of matter

The Supreme Court termed the long delay in hearing the matter 'concerning'. "We aren't on the merits of the case but the long adjournment is something that concerns us. We aren't saying the HC doesn't have any reason but the period for which the hearing has been adjourned may not be good. We propose HC should hear this on Friday."

The Supreme Court ruled that the the petition by the victims be transmitted to the Delhi High Court and directed it to hear this and other related cases as expeditiously as possible. It suggested that matters be taken up by the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court on the coming Friday.

"In riots, violence cannot be curbed by courts. But just because there is no violence, it doesn't mean courts should give such long adjournments...Chief justice of the HC should get all these cases together and hear them," the court said.

Additionally, the court asked both sides to give names of people who could assist in restoring peace and communal harmony.

"Delhi High Court may explore possibility of amicable resolution of the dispute. Peace is possible and we want some people to spread that message," the CJI said, asking all parties to give "names of some individuals who could assist."

A bench of the Delhi High Court led by Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar had last week given the police four weeks to respond to petitions that hate speeches by some political leaders had incited the protesters, leading to the riots in the national capital.

On FIRs against BJP leaders

The Supreme Court refused to pass any orders on the subject but instead asked the high court to hear the matter 'expeditiously'. The court, however, observed that the arrest of leaders might inflame violence.

"We don't want to assume jurisdiction when HC is seized of the matter but such matters should not be delayed for so long," the Supreme Court said.

CJI Bobde asked Mehta if the situation was 'conducive' today to book the BJP leaders for the inflammatory speeches but Mehta claimed that although no riots have been reported for the past three days, registering FIRs now might affect the situation. "It should be left to appropriate authority," Mehta said.

Gonsalves, however, pointed that the statements by BJP leaders inflamed sentiments and caused the riots.

"Kapil Mishra raised provocative slogans and conducted marches. We did not understand the enormity of the statement then. Now such statements are being made across the country," Murali Krishnan quoted Gonsalves as saying.

"Protests are causing blockade of roads, I agree. But not a single incident of violence by protesters. With DCP standing beside him, he gave an ultimatum to clear the blockade within a particular time or else he will take things into his hands. And after that violence started,"Gonsalves said adding that the speeches were not just inflammatory but also counted as calls for mobilisation  and amounted to an attempt to murder.

Mehta objected to this and said that 467 FIRs have been registered against various miscreants in connection of the riots but Gonsalves only wants FIR against three leaders.

"It is fallacious to believe that one statement would have led to riots," Mehta claimed.

CJI Bobde, meanwhile, said that it is not right to believe that riots will stop merely by arrest of a few leaders.

"Your statement that when you arrest somebody it stops everything is not true. You know what happened in Bombay riots... When shakha pramukhs were arrested, it flared up," Bar & Bench quoted Bobde as saying.

"We also have some experience of riots. There are times when the situation becomes worse when you arrest some leaders immediately. "We aren't condoning inflammatory speeches. All that we are saying that it differs from one situation to another," Bobde said.

 

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