In a significant development, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the Delhi Police Commissioner to "take a conscious decision" on registration of FIR in respect of inflammatory speeches allegedly made by politicians including but not limited to BJP leaders Anurag Thakur, Pravesh Verma, Kapil Mishra and Abhay Verma.
The bench comprising Justices S Muralidhar and Talwant Singh passed the order despite the stiff opposition by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for Delhi Police.
The court directed the police officer present in Court, Mr Praveen Ranjan, Special CP, to communicate to the Commissioner the court's "anguish" regarding non-registration of FIRs against such speeches.
"The Commissioner shall follow the Lalita Kumari guidelines and seriously consider the consequences of not registering the FIR. No one is above the Rule of Law", the bench observed in the order.
The matter will be considered by the Court tomorrow again, in the light of the decision to be passed by the Commissioner.
The Court passed the order in a petition filed by social activist Harsh Mander for probe into police inaction during Delhi riots, and action against politicians who allegedly provoked violence through inflammatory speeches
Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for Mander, submitted that the violence had close nexus with the hate speeches targeting particular community.
"The attackers belong to the party in power, while the police was a mute spectator. Such is the tragic state of affairs in this city", Gonsalves submitted.
"The fact these persons are so senior in government hierarchy, it shows that it was part of govt policy to run this narrative. 'What these persons are guilty of are propelling their gang to kill", Gonsalves added.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta strongly opposed the plea, and said that inflammatory speeches were made from the other side as well.
"There are videos from all sides. Let the Petitioner inform the court as to why he only chose 3 clips in a PIL. There's selective public outrage based on these 3 videos", SG said.
The SG also submitted that any directions from the Court now would have the effect of demoralizing the force.
"We will register FIR at the appropriate time", the SG said.
To this, Justice Muralidhar asked "When is the appropriate time, Mr Mehta? The city is burning".
"When you have multiple clips of inflammatory speeches, what are you waiting for? Why aren't you registering the FIR'", Justice Muralidhar asked.
"When the SG himself is saying that these videos are inflammatory, why aren't you registering the FIRs? The entire nation is asking that question", the judge further asked.
In the forenoon session, the Court had played out the clip containing the alleged inflammatory speech of Kapil Mishra in Court. Later, the Court examined the clips in respect of others as well.
SG: FIRs will be registered an appropriate time'What's the appropriate time, Mr Mehta? The city is burning' - Justice Muralidhar#DelhiRiots#DelhiBurns— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) February 26, 2020
SG: FIRs will be registered an appropriate time'What's the appropriate time, Mr Mehta? The city is burning' - Justice Muralidhar#DelhiRiots#DelhiBurns
Harsh Mander alleged that due to the provocative statements made by BJP leaders such as Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma and Abhay Verma, assailants linked to these politicians carried out multiple brutal assaults on the unarmed persons who were protesting against the CAA.
Further, it was submitted that around 10 persons have been killed and 160 have been injured, and many houses and shops have been burnt in areas such as Maujpur, Jaffrabad, Kardampuri, Bhajan Pura, Behrampuri, etc.
'This incident (Kapil Mishra's speech) led to a gathering of armed mobs in Maujpur with loud chanting of communal slurs and chanting of 'Goli Maro Salon Ko' and 'Jai Shri Ram', the petition states.
The Petitioner has further alleged that on the incidents that took place on February 24, the Delhi Police started instigating the armed mob of people who were chanting communally charged slogans such as 'Jai Shri Ram'. It is mentioned:
"In Bhajanpura, 100 RSS goons mobilised in the area and distributed weapons and swords to people."
It is also stated in the petition that stone pelting by "ánti-social" elements, in the presence of the police, has been recorded in CCTV cameras installed by the Delhi Government and there are footages available on social media for evidence.
In light of the same, the Petitioner has asked for an FIR to be lodged against Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma, and other rioters under sections 147, 148, 149, 153A, 153B, 120B of the Indian Penal Code, as well as, sections 3 and 4 of the Damage To Public Property Act. Their immediate arrest has also been sought.
The Petitioner has also asked for a Judicial Enquiry, headed by a retired judge, to inquire into the alleged instances of communal violence, identify the police persons involved in the rioting, and direct the dismissal of such personnel in accordance with law.
Apart from seeking compensation for the deceased and injured persons, the plea also seeks deployment of army to maintain the law and order situation in the affected areas.
Further, the Petitioner has asked for preservation of the CCTV footage, family access to the detained persons, and a direction to be issued to the central government to ensure the safety and protection of all the protest sites.
Click here to download order