FIRs for hate speech registered against BJP MLAs Nitesh Rane and Geeta Jain: Maharashtra Police to Bombay High Court

Citizens of Mira Road-Bhayander, Citizens for Justice and Peace have been filing consistent complaints before the police on these speeches since January 2024 but it is only after other citizens moved the Bombay High Court that the police moved to register FIRs in these cases

The Maharashtra Police on Tuesday, April 23 finally informed the Bombay High Court that criminal cases have been registered against BJP MLA Nitesh Rane for alleged hate speeches in Malwani, Mankhurd, Ghatkopar. FIR is also registered against MLA Gita Jain for alleged hate speech in Mira Bhayander from January to March this year, reported LiveLaw and Bar & Bench.

The FIRs have been registered under sections 153A (promoting enmity between groups on ground of religion etc.), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke) and 506 (criminal intimidation) and other relevant provisions of the IPC. These developments that have taken nearly three months to unfold and only after citizens approached the Bombay High Court.

On February 3, 2024, citizens of Mira Road-Bhayander had lodged a complaint with the local police against MLA Geeta Jan for delivering hate speech. NO FIR was registered. The Citizens for Justice & Peace (CJP) had filed complaints against Rane earlier this year. On April 2, CJP’s complaint to the jurisdictional police at Dongri, Mumbai and Thane flagged the hate speeches of the BJP MLA from Kankavli, Nitish Rane. He had made the incendiary speech in Dongri on February 27 and thereafter in Thane accusing the Muslim Minority — of ‘land jihad’ and threatened to evict them. He said he will burn them in a generator, terming the residents as illegal Bangladeshis. Additionally, he warned the police to take law and order in his own hand if the police did not comply with his directives. Three previous complaints related to hate speech and events in January-February 2024 were filed on February 23 this year. CJP has invoked recent orders of the Supreme Court in the Shaheen Abdullah Case (WP (C) 940/2022) to approach jurisdictional officers and district magistrates (DMs) with these complaints while also ensuring that the Director General of Police is cognisant of these citizens’ actions.

 Today, April 23, Public Prosecutor Hiten Venegavkar also told the Bombay High court that 13 cases have been registered regarding the violence that erupted in Mira Road between January 22 and January 26, 2024. A division bench of Justice Revati Mohite-Dere and Justice Manjusha Deshpande directed the State to file an affidavit on this by June 12, and kept the case for further hearing on June 19. The court was dealing with a writ petition seeking action against MLAs Nitesh Rane, Geeta Jain, and T Raja for allegedly delivering hate speeches and inciting violence.

Senior Advocate Gayatri Singh for the petitioners relied on Amish Devgan v. Union of India and submitted that section 295A should be invoked. Venegavkar said that the investigation has commenced and the Police Commissioners will decide whether section 295A should be invoked.

The court had earlier directed the Mumbai and Mira Bhayander Police Commissioners to review recordings and transcripts of alleged hate speeches by BJP MLAs Nitesh Rane, Geeta Jain, and T Raja and inform the court if FIRs will be registered against them. The court had also directed the police to take necessary preventive action to ensure communal harmony and maintain law and order during the Ram Navami festival on April 17, 2024.

The petition, filed by five residents of Mumbai, highlighted instances of alleged hate speeches delivered by the MLAs in January at various locations, including Mira Road, Govandi, Ghatkopar, and Malvani.

The court had expressed the opinion opined that prima facie; certain offences appeared to have been committed based on the speech transcripts. To ensure impartiality and avoid political pressure, the court instructed the police commissioners to personally examine the videos and transcripts of the speeches.

The petitioners before the High Court also brought to the notice of the court the fact that MLA Nitesh Rane held the press conference at the press room and the office of the Mira-Bhayander Commissioner of Police, on January 23, 2024, to make the alleged hate speech. The court remarked that police premises should not be used for events to maintain the citizens’ trust in the impartiality of the police.

The five petitioners are residents of Mumbai, and two of them are victims of the violence in Mira Road, a satellite city of Mumbai. The petitioners have claimed that they made multiple attempts to get the authorities to take action against the accused for hate speech. However, the police failed to take action.

The petition alleged that the police failed to register FIRs against these individuals, despite clear directives from the Supreme Court mandating suo moto action in such cases to preserve India’s secular character. The petition referred to Supreme Court orders dated October 21, 2022, and January 13, 2023, which instructed all states and union territories to take immediate action against hate speech. The petitioners claim that the inaction of the police, despite several media reports, violates these orders and the rule of law.

The petition detailed several incidents where alleged hate speeches led to unrest and violence in various locations, including Mira Road, Govandi, and Ghatkopar. The petition argues that such speeches could trigger further violence and disrupt the upcoming elections.

The petitioners have sought directions to the police to register FIRs against MLAs Nitesh Rane, Geeta Jain, and T. Raja under sections 153, 153A, 153B, 295A, 504, and 505 of the IPC for allegedly having delivered hate speeches in Mira Road, Govandi, and Ghatkopar on various dates.


Bombay High Court: Plea seeking FIR against three BJP legislators for delivering hate speeches, highlights inaction by police even after Supreme Court guidelines

Bombay HC directs two police commissioners to personally examine videos of speeches delivered by BJP MLA Nitesh Rana, Geeta Jain and T. Raja Singh



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