Delhi riots: HC says have to hear those being accused of hate speech

In a matter related to the Northeast Delhi riots, the Delhi High Court Tuesday granted time to the petitioners to file applications to implead political leaders and activists, who they have accused of delivering hate speeches, as parties in the case. Asking the petitioners whether the court can issue directions against whom the allegations have been made without them being arrayed as parties, the division bench of Justice Siddharth Mirdul and Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani said, “If you make allegations against a person, are they not entitled to be afforded a hearing and an opportunity to defend themselves?” The court also asked whether a PIL was maintainable in a criminal case and why the petitioners should not approach the magistrate instead.

“You may have been wronged or you say that people have been wronged but then two wrongs don’t make a right… so it does not mean that we should overreach ourselves and start doing things which the law does not permit,” it observed. One of the petitions filed by Shaikh Mujtaba Farooq and others seeks FIR against BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma and Abhay Verma and action against police officials.

Arguing the petition, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves said there are several instances where the Supreme Court and high courts have intervened in matters relating to social crime and removed the local police from the investigation.

Seeking an independent investigation into the hate speeches and stating that a magistrate cannot direct an independent investigation, Gonsalves submitted.“We don’t expect the Delhi Police to carry out a fair investigation. I have no faith in the Delhi Police. What is the point of me going to the magistrate? It is a dead-end.” The Delhi Police told the court that in CPI (M) leader Brinda Karat’s plea in 2020, the magistrate was informed that the investigation was conducted into videos and no case was made out against BJP leaders Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma.

Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind also has also sought an independent investigation into the riots and departmental action against the police officials. The outfit ‘Lawyers Voice’ has sought an FIR against Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Salman Khurshid; activists Harsh Mander, Umar Khalid, advocate Mehmood Pracha, actor Swara Bhaskar, AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi and others.  The court will hear the matter again on February 16.

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