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The Supreme Court today directed for the matters concerning Delhi riots to be taken up by the Delhi High Court on Friday, March 6, noting that the long adjournment in the case was unjustified.
The order was passed by the Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant on pleas filed by riot victims and former IAS officer, Harsh Mander, on the issue.
While disposing of the petitions, the Bench said that the Apex Court does not wish to assume jurisdiction when the High Court is seized of the matter.
A similar plea filed by Harsh Mander is pending before the Delhi High Court. When the matter had last come up in the High Court, the Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Hari C Shankar had adjourned the case to April 13, after granting the Central Government 4 weeks time to file their reply.
The Supreme Court today remarked that such a long adjournment in the matter appeared unnecessary.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta today urged the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision to ask the Delhi High Court to take up the matters on Friday, submitting that the High Court may have had good reason to adjourn the matter.
He added that the "it would be naive to assume that speeches by 2-3 individuals could lead to riots." Moreover, he also told the Supreme Court that he wished to file some submissions in the matter on Monday, while requesting that the Delhi High Court not be directed to take up the matter on Friday.
The Supreme Court proceeded to pass its order, all the same, observing that,
"We are not directing, we are asking High Court to list it on Friday."
Declining to accede to submissions by Mehta that the petitioners may pressurise the High Court to take up the matter on Friday, the Supreme Court further observed,
"They will not pressurise. And if they do they may be justified in doing so since they were given such a long adjournment."
The Court today also asked Mehta if the environment was conducive as of today for the registration of FIRs against those who allegedly indulged in hate speech leading to the Delhi Riots.
The query was made considering that the SG had told the Delhi High Court earlier that the environment three days ago was "not conducive" to do so.
SG Mehta, while saying that the situation as regards violence had calmed down, attempted to argue against the move to register FIRs against BJP leaders such as Kapil Mishra and Anurag Thakur.
Mehta said that 468 FIRs in relation to riots had been registered till now, but the petitioners were only concerned with FIRs against "specific individuals."
He said that the authorities cannot be selective in filing FIRs and added that Mander, who is a petitioner here, has himself indulged in hate speech at one of the anti-CAA protests.
Citing a video clip, Mehta says Mander can be heard calling upon people to discharge their duties and saying that there exists no hope from the Supreme Court and the real justice will be done in streets.
The Court took note of the allegations and said that it wishes to sort out the matter concerning this speech, before hearing Mander on the issue of Delhi violence. SG Mehta said he would file an affidavit in this regard today, which has been directed to be given to the Counsel for Mander. The Court will hear this matter on Friday, March 6.
Mehta also expressed reservations against Supreme Court hearing Senior Counsel Colin Gonsalves on the issue, stating that Gonsalves had represented Mander before the High Court.
CJI Bobde, however, said that an Advocate cannot be prevented from being heard by the Court only because he represented a certain client.
During the course of the hearing, the CJI SA Bobde also asked if both the sides would be willing to field persons who can engage in a dialogue and attempt to bring peace.
The Court asked for recommendations for these persons from the Counsel. However, the Bench subsequently directed the Counsel to make these recommendations before the High Court.