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The plea moved by a group of victims of the Delhi riots seeks the immediate registration of persons who indulged in hate speech and the constitution of an SIT, among other prayers.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear on Wednesday a plea seeking, among other things, the immediate registration of FIRs against Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma, Abhay Verma and others for hate speech that had allegedly played a role in sparking the recent Delhi riots.
The plea has been moved by victims of the Delhi riots. Appearing for the petitioners, Senior Counsel Colin Gonsalves today urged the Court to intervene so that action is taken as per law, and without undue favour to influential persons.
Chief Justice of India SA Bobde today remarked that the Court also wishes for peace, but that it is also aware of the limitations on its functioning, including the fact that it may only come to the scene to pass appropriate orders once the event has happened. He explained,
“We are not saying people should die. That kind of pressure we are not equipped to handle. We cannot stop things from happening. We cannot give preventive reliefs. We feel a kind of pressure on us... We can only deal with the situation after it occurs, the kind of pressure on us, we can’t handle that... it’s like Court is responsible. We are reading newspapers, we know the kind of comments are made. Courts come on to the scene after the thing is done and courts have not been able to prevent such thing,"
CJI SA Bobde
The plea filed before the Supreme Court has also made the following prayers:
Constitution of a Special Investigation Team with officers from outside Delhi to probe the riots;
Deployment of army to maintain law and order;
Constitution of an Inquiry Committee headed by retired judge to probe police persons involved;
Award of exemplary compensation to all victims;
Direction to make public the full list of persons detained by the police and paramilitary;
Direction for ensuring that the State provide access for those detained to legal counsel;
Directions to provide cooked food to affected families in riot-hit areas, and in hospitals and detention areas;
Direction to preserve all CCTV footage of riot affected areas;
Direction for the immediate release of postmortem reports;
Direction for a probe by a retired judge into the communal riots, and for the identification of policemen involved in rioting and criminal conduct so that they may be dismissed from service in accordance with law.
Filed by Advocate Satya Mitra and drawn by Advocate Sneha Mukherjee, the petition states,
"...if the leaders instigating the mobs to commit ghastly crimes have FIRs registered against them and are arrested and kept in jail; this would have an immediate and salutary effect on the situation. If not done the violence can possibly exacerbate to a full blown national law and order situation."
Inter alia, the petitioners also contend that with "judicial abstention and any control over the police hate speech spread like wild fire", leading to additional hate speeches being made by several political leaders including, Parvesh Verma, Tarun Chug, Tajinder Pal Bagga and Vishnu Gupta, among others.
A similar plea for registration of hate speech FIRs is pending before the Delhi High Court, which is expected to take up the case next on April 13.
The petition before the Supreme Court also recounts the sequence of the proceedings before the High Court, arguing that the same is "not as innocuous as it looks."
On February 27, the Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar had adjourned the hearing in that matter, after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Court on behalf of the Delhi Police that the situation was not “conducive” to register the FIRs.
The High Court had also acceded to a request made by the Centre for more time to file a response, granting four weeks for the same.
In this backdrop, the petitioner has registered objection that on February 27, "the urgency of the matter was forgotten and the grave criminality engaged in by persons who instigated large scale killing, destruction of property, arson and causing grievous hurt was also instantly forgotten."
The petitioners add that,
"This practice of the Hon’ble Bench of the High Court of entertaining life and death matters and adjourning them endlessly gives the appearance of entertainment of the grievances of the victim community but in reality it amounts to nothing."
[Read the Petition]