HC seeks responses on hate speech

Published on Feb 29, 2020 12:00 AM IST
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ByHT Correspondent, New Delhi

The Delhi High Court on Friday sought responses from the Centre, the Delhi government and the city police on three separate pleas seeking registration of first information reports (FIRs) against top leaders of the Congress and others for allegedly making hate speeches during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA.

The petitions wanted FIRs to be registered against Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, the Owaisi brothers, actor Swara Bhaskar and radio jockey Sayema, among others.

A bench of Delhi high court chief justice D N Patel and justice C Hari Shankar issued the notice to the Union home ministry, the Delhi government and the police on the petitions that contended that the people named by them had incited the protestors, leading to the riots in the national capital that left at least 42 people dead this week.

One of the pleas, filed by Lawyer’s Voice, an organisation of lawyers based in the national capital, sought an FIR against the Gandhis, Sisodia, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Amanatullah Khan, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Akbaruddin Owaisi and advocate Mahmood Pracha for inflammatory speeches. The plea also sought the formation of a Special Investigation Team to look into the alleged hate speeches.

“We will give an extremely, strong, defeating, comprehensive and straightforward reply {to the notice}, but, let me tell you that the whole world is receiving FIRs, but the whole world does not include the great and only Kapil Mishra, the whole world excludes the great and only Anurag Thakur, Pravesh Verma,” senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, naming three Bharatiya Janata Party politicians who too have been accused of hate speech in other petitions. On Thursday, the union government was given four weeks to respond in a case seeking that FIRs be registered against these leaders.

“Not even an FIR now after months and of course after years not an FIR against Giriraj Singh, against Chinmayanand, against Sangeet Som of UP, surely their speeches were very mild, compared to the hate and venom, spewed out by Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi,” Singhvi said, striking a note of sarcasm while referring to other BJP leaders accused of hate speech in the past.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) did not comment on the matter.

A separate application by advocate Sanjjiiv Kkumaar sought registration of FIRs against the actress Swara Bhaskar, RJ Sayema and AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan for allegedly making hate speeches while also seeking National investigation Agency (NIA) probe of the riots

Calls and text messages to Bhaskar and RJ Sayema went unanswered. A third plea seeking a case to be registered against AIMIM’s Waris Pathan, Akbaruddin Owaisi and Asasuddin Owaisi was filed by Hindu Sena chief Vishnu Gupta.

The Owaisi brothers did not respond to calls or messages. Pathan responded, but refrained from comment, saying he was bedridden and not in a position to talk.

Lawyer Mahmood Pracha said that clubbing him with the people belonging to political parties was a “mischievous act” to dilute the voice of spontaneous dissent of the people of India against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens and to protect reservations for scheduled castes and tribes and other backward classes.

“This is with the motive of diluting the court cases against the RSS {Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh}, its functionaries and Delhi police. RSS and BJP {Bharatiya Janata Party} do not require the court’s intervention to register FIRs for cognizable offence because they are in the government,” Pracha said.

The matter will now be heard on April 13.

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