17 April 2023 9:20 AM GMT
The Supreme Court today issued notice on a petition filed by Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat seeking registration of FIR against BJP leaders Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma for allegedly delivering hate speeches in 2020.A bench comprising Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna was considering the special leave petition filed against the Delhi High Court’s order of...
The Supreme Court today issued notice on a petition filed by Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat seeking registration of FIR against BJP leaders Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma for allegedly delivering hate speeches in 2020.
A bench comprising Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna was considering the special leave petition filed against the Delhi High Court’s order of dismissal of the Writ Petition filed by Karat against a trial court order rejecting her plea for registration of FIRs against the BJP leaders.
While issuing notice, the Supreme Court observed that prima facie, the stand of the Magistrate that sanction is required to register FIR in the case, appears to be incorrect. Notice is made returnable in three weeks.
Karat's plea refers to various speeches made by the two politicians including the speech dated January 27, 2020 given by Anurag Thakur at a rally shouting the slogan "desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaron saalon ko". Reference has also been made to another speech made by Parvesh Verma dated January 27-28, 2020, while campaigning for Bhartiya Janata Party and subsequently in an interview given to media.
Senior Advocate Siddharth Agarwal, appearing for the CPI(M) leader, pointed out that the Election Commission had taken action and barred them from campaigning for certain amount of hours. The 'goli maaro' speech translated into real action after a person fired at the protesters within the next few days. The senior counsel also argued that the Delhi High Court had in a collateral proceeding commented adversely on speeches.
However, the Magistrate refused to order registration of FIR against citing lack of sanction.
He submitted that the judgment relied on by the Magistrate, which dealt with the need for sanction to register FIR, is in the context of Prevention of Corruption Act. "It has no application to IPC offences. Sanction not needed for FIR. Courts below has completely erred. We are three years down the line and no FIR has been registered yet," he said.
He also referred to the order passed by the Supreme Court last year which says that police should take suo motu action on hate speech cases without waiting for any complaint.
Agarwal submitted it was not merely an issue of setting aside magistrate's order. "It was also a matter of laying down some guidelines as to how such a matter has to be dealt with, which only a writ can do...It is well settled that alternate remedy does not impinge on the powers of the High Court. Had the HC relegated it to the initial stage, it would have been a different issue."
During the hearing, Justice Joseph queried how Section 153A, which requires two classes, was attracted in this case.
"This is an election rally. It refers to a dharna at Shaheenbagh by the members of a particular community and the exhortation of "traitors" was in the context of that particular group," Agarwal submitted.
But protest group is secular, Justice Joseph remarked.
To this, Agarwal responded, "The issue was raised in the context of CAA. The basis of somebody believing CAA is not right was on the ground of religion. Though the protest group is secular, the underlying context is religious segregation...Let's assume it is not communal statement. But if the statement is that those oppose CAA are traitors, it will be under 153A."
Justice Joseph then inquired about the status report filed by the Delhi Police, which concluded that no offence is made out against the accused. Agarwal submitted that Magistrate did not actually accept the status report though he "misdirected" himself into a legal issue regarding sanction.
The judge then asked whether other offences under IPC, irrespective of section 153A would be attracted.
"If any person makes a statement "goli maaro", will it be an offence for anyone to say to kill the traitors irrespective of religion. Will it be a cognizable offence in its own right? Indian Penal Code allows violence only in private defence. If you say that "goli maroo", irrespective of 153A, are there other provisions?" Justice Joseph asked.
Agarwal responded that offence of Abetment under Section 107 IPC will be attracted.
"Even if it is not 153A or 153B, if the exhortation is an instigation, and even if the instigation does not lead to final act- though on the next day one gentleman picks up a gun and shoots at the crown- it will be an offence. It requires investigation, whether the statement is communal, what are the overtones etc...for 3 years there has been no investigation," he said.
The plea alleges that the speech threatened use of force to remove protestors who were protesting at Shaheen Bagh in the wake of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and to promote hatred and enmity against Muslim persons by portraying them as invaders who will enter houses and rape and kill people.