Lawyers, students write to CJI over hate speech by Rane | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

Lawyers, students write to CJI over hate speech by Rane

ByJyoti Punwani
Feb 27, 2024 07:40 AM IST

Lawyers and students from Govandi urge CJI to take suo moto cognisance of inflammatory speeches by BJP MLA Nitesh Rane, alleging communal tension and police inaction.

Mumbai: Two lawyers and five law students, all residents of Govandi, have written to the chief justice of India (CJI), requesting that the Supreme Court take suo moto cognisance of inflammatory speeches by BJP MLA from Kankavli Nitesh Rane in Govandi and elsewhere in the state in the past few weeks.

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On February 10, Rane led a ‘Jan Aakrosh’ rally through Govandi and Mankhurd, wherein he referred to Muslims using a derogatory term, the lawyers and students mentioned in the letter. In his speech, they said, Rane castigated BMC and MHADA officials for having facilitated “land jehad” by allowing “Rohingyas” to settle in Govandi and Mankhurd “illegally”. He threatened to demolish all mosques in the area if MHADA didn’t demolish them. He also exhorted women to “shun lipstick, take up the sword and become Durga and Kali, and not burqewali.”

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Rane’s speech flared communal tension in the area, said the letter, alleging that the police had failed to file any first information report despite representations made to the Joint commissioner of police (law and order), additional commissioner of police (north), and deputy commissioner of police (zone VI). The police was also given a copy of the Supreme Court order dated October 21, 2022, which directed state governments to take action against hate speech without waiting for a formal complaint, the letter stated. Signed by advocates Saif Alam and Abid Sayyed from the Bombay high court and the five law students from Govandi, the letter included links to Rane’s speech on You Tube, as well as news reports about his earlier speeches.

On being asked why the authors approached the chief justice directly instead of going to the state government, advocate Alam said the day after the rally, they met the joint commissioner of police (law and order) with an application to register an FIR against Rane. “He sent us to the deputy commissioner of police (Zone VI). But no action was taken. Two days later, we sent an application to the director general of police and the commissioner of police as well as other police officers, with copies to the chief minister and the home minister. Still nothing happened,” he said.

Did the authors expect the chief justice to act on their letter?

“Hardly anyone goes directly to the chief justice against hate speech,” said Alam. “Most people follow the procedure – they go the magistrate, who calls the police, and so on. That’s a long process. When there’s so much evidence, why should a citizen have to run from pillar to post to get the government to act? Isn’t that a mockery of the law? It’s obvious isn’t it, that in this case, the government doesn’t want to act?”

Alam said that he and his colleagues had also sent an application to the deputy commissioner of police (zone I) last week regarding the possibility of Telangana BJP MLA T Raja Singh delivering a communally charged speech at Mira Road on Sunday . “We felt the police had not effectively countered the petition filed by the organisers of the rally,” said Alam.

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