Sonia, Rahul oppose PIL over ‘hate speeches’
Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have opposed the registration of FIRs against them for their alleged hate speeches during the anti-CAA/NRC protests, saying that there is not even a remote reference of any provocation
Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have opposed the registration of FIRs against them for their alleged hate speeches during the anti-CAA/NRC protests, saying that there is not even a remote reference of any provocation.
The leaders denied the allegations of igniting the communal violence in north-east Delhi in February 2020 claiming that the PIL-petitioner had selectively targeted them, while not taking into account the speeches made by the members of the ruling party.
“Meanwhile a series of speeches made by the members of the ruling party…have been conveniently left out by the petitioner, revealing the coloured nature of the exercise,” the Cong leaders said, adding that only non conformist, independent and opposition leaders have been roped in by the petitioner.
The Gandhis said that their speeches have not been taken into “entirety”, adding that they (speeches) in no way promote enmity between any groups on the basis of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc.
The affidavits were filed in response to a petition by an organization Lawyers Voice seeking registration of FIRs against Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Manish Sisodia, Amanatullah Khan, social activist Harsh Mander, AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi and former AIMIM MLA Waris Pathan etc for their alleged hate speeches.
The high court is seized of a bunch of petitions that have sought registration of FIRs against various political leaders for delivering provocative speeches during the protests in 2019.
Another petitioner, Shaikh Mujtaba Farooq, has sought registration of FIR and investigation against BJP leaders Anurag Thakur, Kapil Mishra, Parvesh Verma and Abhay Verma. Two more petitions have also sought similar relief.
On Monday, a bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Amit Sharma adjourned the hearing in the pleas due to paucity of time and posted them for further hearing on September 27.
Saying that they are major leaders of the opposition, Sonia and Rahul said that they have a fundamental duty towards the citizen of the country to call and criticize bills passed by the ruling government which are detrimental to the rights of the people.
They asserted that freedom of speech and expression is the basic fundamental right, the Gandhis in two separate replies, said that to prevent a citizen from forming, holding, expressing a bonafide opinion in public interest on a bill passed by the Parliament is not a reasonable restriction and it violated the basic principles on which our democracy is founded.
“To prevent a citizen from expressing a bonafide opinion against any bill or law passed by the government and putting it in public domain to inform, generate a debate, build public opinion for change/reform is violative of our right to speech,” both the leaders said in separate affidavits.
Terming it to be “publicity interest litigation”, the Cong leaders have said that a worrying phenomenon has gained trained traction and is in vogue these days, where petitioners bypass the procedure prescribed under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
“The beauty of procedural law lies in the stages and remedies available during the course of criminal proceedings. The high court has been flooded with writ petitions praying for registration of FIRs or praying for proper investigations. If the high courts entertain such petitions, it will open a Pandora box and would crumble the already overtaxed system,” their affidavits read.
Apart from seeking action against those who allegedly gave the hate speeches, some pleas have also sought other reliefs, which include setting up of an SIT, FIRs against police officers who were allegedly involved in the violence, and disclosure of persons arrested and detained.
In its response to these prayers, police had earlier said it had already created three special investigation teams (SIT) under the crime branch and there was no evidence till now that its officers were involved in the violence. The police, in its affidavit earlier, has said that investigations into the North East Delhi riots have not revealed any evidence till now that political leaders instigated or participated in the violence.