SC issues notice in plea urging criminal prosecution in Dharam Sansad case

Spiritual leaders had called for genocide of minorities at the event, but little or no action has been taken against them so far

Dharam sansad

The Supreme Court has issued notice in the petition seeking SIT probe into the religious conclaves that took place in December 2021 in Haridwar and Delhi. At these conclaves, pernicious calls for genocide were made against the minority community posing a threat to communal harmony. The notice is returnable in 10 days

The petition was filed by former Patna High Court judge Anjana Prakash and journalist Qurban Ali. Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal appeared for them before the bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli. One of the main contentions raised before the bench was that the Uttarakhand Police have not made any arrests in the case and the Delhi Police has not even registered an FIR.

The bench raised a concern that a matter regarding this was being heard by a bench led by Justice MA Khanwilkar however it was clarified by the counsels that there are general matters on hate speech before other benches also including bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud which was seized of the hate speech case against Sudarshan News.

Mr Sibal submitted, “If quick steps are not taken these Dharm Sansad will take place at other places. No arrests have been made. It’s contrary to what this country stands for. It’s incitement of violence.” The bench thus allowed the petitioners “to bring to the attention of concerned authorities about events that are going to take place which according to them are against the provisions of law and the judgement of this court,” reported Livelaw.

Senior Counsel Indira Jaising appeared for Tushar Gandhi seeking an intervention in the matter as Gandhi had filed an application against mob violence in 2019. “Had those directions been implemented, this Dharam Sansad would not have happened,” she submitted. However, the bench said that it was currently only going to consider the main petition.


At the Haridwar conclave, several speakers including so-called religious leaders along with hardline fundamentalists exhorted mobs to engage in targeted violence, and even directly called for a genocide of the minority community. At the Delhi event, Sudarshan News editor-in-chief administered an oath to a group of people to “die for and kill” to make India a “Hindu rashtra” or a Hindu nation.

The persons who took part in Haridwar’s ‘Dharam Sansad’ and delivered hate speech and calls for genocide include (but not limited to):

  • Swami Prabodhanand Giri, president of Uttarakhand Hindu Raksha Sena

  • Yati Narsinghanand, Head Priest Dasna Devi temple

  • Sadhvi Annapurna aka Pooja Shakun Pandey, general secretary Hindu Mahasabha

  • Swami Anandswaroop

  • Swami Sagar Sindhu Maharaj from Roorkee

  • Dharam Das Maharaj from Patna, among others.


On December 23, the Uttarakhand Police filed an FIR in the matter, but had initially named only Wasim Rizvi as an accused and had invoked section 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) and 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage reli­gious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or reli­gious beliefs) of the IPC. After a few days, other names including Sant Dharamdas Maharaj, Sadhvi Annapoorna alias Pooja Shakun Pandey, Yati Narsinghanand and Sagar Sindhu Maharaj were added in the FIR. However, no arrests have been made yet.

In Delhi, a complaint was filed on December 27 against Chavhanke for his hate speech.

On December 31, the Haridwar event organisers announced their future plans to hold similar events in Aligarh and Kurukshetra and circulated earlier hate speeches as promotional videos for the same. Thereafter, another FIR was lodged on January 3 against Wasim Rizvi, Yati Narsinghanand, Sant Dharamdas Maharaj, Sadhvi Annapoorna alias Pooja Shakun Pandey, Sagar Sindhu Maharaj, Swami Anand Swaroop, Ashwani Upadhyay, Swami Prabodhanand Giri, Dharamdas Maharaj, Premanand Maharaj amongst others.

The petition

The petitioners have sought directions to the police authorities to comply with the guidelines laid down by it in Tehseen Poonawalla v. Union of India (2018) 9 SCC 501 and to consequently define the contours of ‘duty of care in investigation’ to be undertaken by the police authorities, reported LiveLaw.

The plea points out that no substantive action has been taken by either Uttarakhand or Delhi Police in the matter. While the former has registered FIRs and not arrested a single accused, the latter has not even registered FIR.

Further, the FIRs lodged miss out on invoking important offences like section 120B (criminal conspiracy), 121A (conspiracy to wage war against Government of India) and 153B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) of the IPC.


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