The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the police to take a "conscious decision" with respect to lodging of FIRs against alleged hate speeches by three BJP leaders in connection with the violence during in the capital. It also directed the police to convey its decision by Thursday. The three BJP leaders are Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma. Videos of their speeches were played in court on Wednesday.
A bench had earlier in the day asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to advise the Police Commissioner on the issue of lodging of FIRs against the leaders. The court was hearing a plea filed by activist Harsh Mander seeking lodging of FIRs and arrests of those involved in the ongoing communal violence in parts of northeast Delhi, which has left 22 people dead and over 180 injured.
A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Talwant Singh took on record the assurance by special commissioner Praveer Ranjan that he will sit with the Police Commissioner on Wednesday and view all video clips and take a conscious decision on lodging of FIRs.
"The Commissioner shall follow the Lalita Kumari guidelines and seriously consider the consequences of not registering the FIR. No one is above the Rule of Law,” the Delhi High Court said, according to Livelaw, referring to a Supreme Court verdict in 2013.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that there was “selective public outrage” over the three videos, and said that any direction from the court at this point would have the effect of demoralising the force, and that they would register the FIR at an appropriate time.
To this, Justice Muralidhar reportedly responded: “When is the appropriate time, Mr Mehta? The city is burning”. He also questioned why they aren’t registering an FIR when there are videos of the speeches.
Rahul Mehra, the standing counsel for the Delhi government, said that he doesn’t see why an FIR should not be registered, according to Bar and Bench. “I don't see why an FIR should not be registered. A cognizable offence is writ large in these video clips. If there is no evidence, Delhi Police can file a cancellation report later,” he said. Mehra said that FIR ought to be lodged against everyone involved in the violence.
Harsh Mander’s lawyer stated to the court that it was the clip of Anurag Thakur that set the ball rolling. “Anurag Thakur's video caused the ball to roll. It's just that one line. It's a very powerful video. That's the starting point,” he said.
Before the Delhi Assembly Elections, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur had said, “Desh ke gaddaron ko, Goli maaro saalon ko” in a rally, and led the chanting of this slogan.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Delhi High Court on Wednesday that it should wait for the response of the authorities concerned on the issue of lodging FIRs against
alleged hate speeches by three BJP leaders in connection with the violence during protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). During the hearing, Mehta said any decision taken now may aggravate the situation.
Mehta also said the statements by BJP leaders Verma and Thakur were made several days back and it was not urgent to be heard on Wednesday.
The court observed, "Does that not make it even more urgent. When the Commissioner was made aware of such statements, does he need someone to approach him to take action. As a law officer, you answer whether this prayer (for lodging FIRs against three BJP leaders) is not urgent."
Mehta replied, "I am not saying it is not urgent, but it can wait till tomorrow.
The matter will be heard further on Thursday.
The court also issued notices to the parties concerned on the plea filed by the Centre seeking to be impleaded in the case.
With PTI inputs