By Raju Vernekar
While 106 persons were arrested and FIRs registered against 18 persons on charges of indulging in an arson for the last 4 days over anti-CAA agitations in Delhi, a division bench comprising Justices S Muralidhar and Talwant Singh at the Delhi High Court, on Wednesday asked the Delhi police why no FIRs were registered against leaders who allegedly incited violence by their hate speeches.
While hearing a petition, by civil rights activist Harsh Mander and Farah Naqvi, seeking FIRs against three BJP leaders, for their alleged hate speeches which resulted in the riots, the bench asked Delhi Police to review the speeches and take a “conscious decision” on the registration of FIRs against the political leaders who alleged incited violence through their speeches. The petition has also sought the setting up of a special investigation (SIT) team to inquire into the riots in Delhi and compensation for those killed and injured in the violence.
Justice S. Muralidhar slammed a Delhi police officer for saying he had not watched the video in which BJP leader Kapil Mishra issued threats to anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protestors and played the clip in court. Clips of speeches made by Minister Anurag Thakur, MP Parvesh Verma and MLA Abhay Verma were also played in court. These leaders led crowds to chant ‘shoot the traitors’ and also accused the peaceful protesters at Shahen Bagh ‘rapists and murderers’. BJP leader Kapil Mishra also addressed a pro-CAA rally at Maujpur on 23 February.
“There are so many TVs in your office, how can a police officer say that he hasn’t watched the videos. I’m really appalled by the state of affairs of Delhi Police.” the judge said “Let all of you watch the clip.” After the video was played, the DCP identified the police officer present in the video as DCP (north east) Surya. The court also clarified that its orders were not limited to the BJP leaders, but to any leaders who may have made hate speeches.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta said that FIRs will be “registered at an appropriate stage”. To this, Justice Muralidhar asked Which is that appropriate stage? After the city has burnt down?” Mehta shot back that the city is not burning, “It is only a few areas”. Mehta claimed that the petitioners had handpicked only three speeches, claiming that there were other speeches made from all quarters that have resulted in the violence. He claimed to be in possession of more videos showing hate speeches.
The bench responded saying that this submission only portrays the police in worse light. “So apart from these three, there are other hate speech FIRs also that have not been registered? I will take your word for it that those clips also make out cognizable offences … You are saying that the police not only failed to take action in these three clips but many more clips?” Justice Muralidhar said.
“How many more lives have to be lost, how much property has to be destroyed?” Justice Muralidhar asked, to which SG Mehta requested the court not to get “angry”. “This is not anger, this is anguish,” the judge responded.
The judge said “Just register an FIR, communicate it to your commissioner of police. This is the anguish of a constitutional court. Why are you not showing alacrity when it comes to registration of FIR in these cases? We want peace to prevail. This city has seen enough violence. Let us not repeat 1984.”
The further hearing of the petition is slated for Thursday. However Justice Murlidhar is not expected to be present to hear the petition, since late on Wednesday the Centre notified his transfer to Punjab and Haryana high court.
In another development, the Supreme court will be hearing applications by Bhim Army Chief, Chandra Shekhar Aazad and others for registration of FIRs based on complaints pertaining to the violence that began on February 23 in the city’s North-East area.
Yet another petition filed by CPM leaders Brinda Karat and K.M. Tiwari is posted for hearing before Justices GS Sistani and Anup J Bhambhani at Delhi High court on Thursday. The petitioners have “made a presumption” that the speeches incited violence such as the shooting on Jamia students and anti-CAA protesters at Shaheen Bagh. The petition seeks FIR against Mishra, Thakur and Parvesh Sahib Singh and others for hate speech.
“This is a case of immediate attention, since the slogans like “goli maro gaddaroan ko” were raised. Thakur, a minister asking people to go ahead and kill! another person, leader Abhay Verma gives a hate speech at Lakshmi nagar” This was appalling the petitioners have stated.
In the meanwhile former and present India cricketers, including Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj , on Wednesday appealed for peace and harmony in violence-hit northeast Delhi, saying the incidents of arson and rage were unfortunate and heart-breaking.
106 arrested, FIR registered against 18, Death toll 27, over 200 injured
Compensation: Rs one crore to the family of slain Had Constable Ratan Lal, Government job to one member of the family.
Compensation (general)- Families of those killed-Rs. 2 lakh, seriously injured Rs.50,000
Advocate Zubeda Begum appointed as an amicus curie
Injured admitted to GTB Hospital and LNJP Hospital.
Curfew (section 144) for one month in Seelampur
The issue of violence in the national capital did not figure in the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday
Delhi police helpline (112) (22829334) (22829335)