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No FIR over hate speeches; Delhi HC gives Centre a month to reply, makes it party in case

Earlier on Wednesday, a furious two-judge high court bench comprising Justices S Muralidhar and Talwant Singh, directed the Delhi Police to take a “conscious decision” on the registration of FIRs against three BJP leaders for alleged hate speeches.

SNS | New Delhi |

The Delhi High Court hearing a plea demanding registration of FIRs against certain BJP leaders who allegedly made hate speeches thereby inciting violence in Northeast Delhi, on Thursday gave the Centre four weeks to file its response in the case while making it a party in the matter.

A two-judge bench of justices DN Patel and C Harishankar listed the matter for further hearing on April 13.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing Delhi Police, said the petitioner in his wisdom selected three speeches as hate speeches and argued that there are many such inflammatory statements that have been made.

SG Mehta then prayed for allowing the application seeking impleadment of the Union of India as a party to the petition as the Centre is responsible for maintaining law and order in Delhi.

He told the Delhi High Court that the time was “not conducive” to file FIRs against those who allegedly made incendiary, hate speeches.

The Delhi Police further told the court that in a conscious decision, it has decided not to file an FIR for hate speech against anyone at this stage as it would not help in restoring peace and normalcy in Delhi.

The police further stated that they have filed 48 FIRs in the Northeast Delhi violence case.

The petitioner, retired bureaucrat Harsh Mander, had sought a judicial enquiry into the incidents of violence, FIR against culprits, compensation for the riots’ victims and deployment of Army in the affected areas.

As the hearing began, counsel for petitioner Harsh Mander — Colin Gonsalves — said protests against CAA were going on peacefully, barring some issues like traffic jams. However, the slogans raised in the hate speeches directed people to kill, he said.

“Goli Maaro became the favourite slogan of a political party,” he said, adding that they should be charged with murder, “no matter who they are”.

He called for immediate FIRs against the ones who made hate speeches and said that “the decision of their arrest can be made later.”

As the court adjourned the hearing till April 13, Gonsalves requested for a closer date.

“10 to 12 people are dying every day. A closer date would be appreciated,” he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, a furious two-judge high court bench comprising Justices S Muralidhar and Talwant Singh, directed the Delhi Police to take a “conscious decision” on the registration of FIRs against three prominent political leaders — Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma — for alleged hate speeches.

Pulling up the city police, the high court asked the Delhi Police to sit and watch all videos of hate speeches made in the recent past and submit a report by today.

The court had also sought an explanation on why there was such a delay in registering FIRs in cases of hate speech.

The court also played the three speeches — including that of Kapil Mishra’s that was delivered hours before the violence — so that the Delhi Police and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who had denied watching the clips, could see them.

In its Wednesday hearing, the Delhi High Court also stated that “another 1984-like situation cannot be allowed to happen in this city under its watch”.

However, hours later, in a major turn of events, Justice Muralidhar was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which the Centre has termed as “routine affair”.

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the transfer was done with the consent of the judge and added that a well-settled process has been followed.

According to report in Bar and Bench, notification from the Department of Justice in the Ministry of Law and Justice said, “In exercise of the power conferred by clause (1) of Article 222 of the Constitution of India, the President, after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, is pleased to transfer Shri Justice S Muralidhar, Judge of the Delhi High Court, as a Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and to direct him to assume charge of his office in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.”

Thirty-four people have been killed so far in the riots that took place in northeast Delhi since Sunday evening. More than 250 people have been injured as armed mobs rampaged through parts of northeast Delhi on Monday and Tuesday, looting and burning buildings.

The violence started on Saturday last week after BJP leader Kapil Mishra carried out a rally in Jaffrabad area and gave a three-day ultimatum to the anti-CAA protesters in the area to clear. “Three days’ ultimatum for Delhi Police – clear the roads in Jaffrabad and Chand Bagh. After this, we won’t listen to you,” he declared. In a video of the speech, he can be seen making these incendiary comments even as a Delhi Police officer stands next to him.