Day after judge sought FIRs for hate speech, changed bench says situation not conducive

Ghughuti Bulletin

NEW DELHI: A day after showing urgency to prosecute four BJP functionaries for their alleged hate speeches, a changed bench of
Delhi high court on Thursday accepted the stand of Delhi Police that the situation at present was not “conducive” to register FIRs.

Adjourning the matter for April 13, a bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar also allowed the plea of the Centre to become a party to the PIL that has sought lodging of FIRs and arrests of those who gave the hate speeches. The court said it was a “necessary party” given the nature of prayers made.

On Wednesday, Delhi Police had come under fire before a bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Talwant Singh, which had taken a dim view of delay in booking
Kapil Mishra,
Parvesh Verma and Anurag Thakur.

Justice Muralidhar was transferred late on Wednesday to Punjab and Haryana high court, days after the Supreme Court collegium made the proposal.

When Solicitor General Tushar Mehta repeated the arguments on Thursday, adding that police had decided to defer registering FIRs for now “looking at the complexity of the situation”, the Chief Justice-led bench agreed to grant four weeks for a reply to be filed.

Mehta said, “The paramount concern should be welfare of citizens. Not all are present before the court. Even they are suffering.” He maintained that the authorities had examined all the audio/video clips and other materials, including that on Twitter and “after having carefully considered all these materials, a conscious decision was taken to defer the decision on the question (of lodging FIR).”

However, the AAP government standing counsel Rahul Mehra urged the bench to issue urgent directions in view of the seriousness of the situation in northeast Delhi and pointed out that “the court had asked why FIRs regarding hate speeches were not lodged when FIRs for other offences had been registered.” Mehra added that 48 FIRs had been registered for deaths, arson, loot and other offences committed in that area.

Senior advocate
Colin Gonsalves, who appeared for petitioners Harsh Mander and Farah Naqvi, urged the court to keep up the pressure on police to take action, arguing there is “hatred in the air” due to the alleged hate speeches and “it had resulted in deaths, arson and looting.” He submitted that an FIR must be lodged immediately and “these people should be arrested and taken off the streets.”

During the hearing, senior advocate Chetan Sharma also mentioned a plea by Lawyers Voice, which wants FIRs against Congress president Sonia Gandhi,
Rahul Gandhi and others for allegedly giving hate speeches. “Why did people come out on streets during President Trump’s visit? Who sent them? It needs to be investigated and such persons arrested,” he argued.

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