Plea in Supreme Court seeks compensation scheme for hate crime victims

The plea, filed by the victim, Kazeem Ahmed Sherwani of Delhi’s Zakir Nagar area, has also sought a victim compensation scheme for persons affected by hate crimes, and demanded action against police personnel who refuse to register such cases.
The petition came up for hearing on Friday before a Supreme Court bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and C T Ravikumar. (File/Representative use)
The petition came up for hearing on Friday before a Supreme Court bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and C T Ravikumar. (File/Representative use)
Published on Nov 27, 2021 12:12 AM IST
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ByAbraham Thomas, New Delhi

A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court, seeking a fair investigation and trial on a complaint by a senior citizen who claimed that he was abused and tortured in an alleged hate crime in Noida in July this year.

The plea, filed by the victim, Kazeem Ahmed Sherwani of Delhi’s Zakir Nagar area, has also sought a victim compensation scheme for persons affected by hate crimes, and demanded action against police personnel who refuse to register such cases.

The plea came up for hearing on Friday before a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and C T Ravikumar.

The 62-year-old, in his petition, alleged that on July 4, he was waiting for an Aligarh-bound bus at Noida’s Sector 37 when he was offered a ride by a group of men. The men, however, abused, harassed and tortured him on account of his Muslim identity, he claimed. He added that police refused to register and also dissuaded him from pursuing the case when he visited a nearby police station.

Sherwani claimed that it was only after he approached the National Human Rights Commission that police asked him to submit his complaint. While the cops at Noida sector 37 registered his complaint, on July 31, they claimed that the petitioner was “politicising” the issue, he said.

“The petitioner was attacked because of his beard, and ostensible Muslim identity. The incident of that day has left the petitioner and his family completely traumatised, because it attacked their very identity as equal citizens of this country,” the petition, filed through advocate Talha Abdul Rehman, said.

“The attack, according to him, besides harming the fundamental right to equality (Article 14) and liberty (Article 21), also violated the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion under Article 25,” it added.

The petitioner, who was represented by senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, urged the court for a fair and impartial investigation, and demanded security by Delhi Police, alleging harassment by Uttar Pradesh Police over the matter in the past.

“If hate crimes are permitted to occur with impunity, and without prompt legal action, the promise of the Constitution makers will be broken,” the petition, filed through advocate Talha Abdul Rehman, said.

“This is not a lone case, but one of several cases where similar hate crimes, including public beatings and lynching, have taken place across several states, but where victims have been discouraged, without even a preliminary investigation, to frame the offence as a ‘hate crime, and the police have discouraged them from filing FIRs,” it added.

The petition also cited a 2018 judgment of the top court in the Tehseen Poonawala case, where it had laid down guidelines for dealing with instances of mob lynching and hate crimes.

The petitioner sought an action taken by Uttar Pradesh Police on his complaint in compliance with the 2018 decision.

Taking note of his complaint, the bench allowed a copy of the plea to be served to the counsel for state of Uttar Pradesh and directed the matter to be heard along with petitions raising similar issues of hate speech, that are listed before Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana, on December 3.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2022