Dissatisfied with the affidavit filed by Delhi Police with respect to the speeches made by Sudarshan News TV Editor Suresh Chavhanke at the Delhi Dharam Sansad, the Supreme Court, on April 22, 2022 directed them to file a ‘better affidavit’ by May 4, 2022.
Chavhanke had made communal statements at the Hindu Yuva Vahini event in December 2021. But the affidavit by the police stated that no anti-Muslim hate speech was made by the Editor. Police claim that they conducted an ‘in-depth investigation’ into the video clips of the speeches and found no words were used against any particular community. This despite multiple media reports of pernicious calls for genocide being made against the minority community.
According to LiveLaw, the bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and Abhay S Oka asked, “The affidavit has been filed by Deputy Commissioner of Police. We hope he has understood the nuances. Has he merely reproduced the inquiry report or applied his mind? Is it your stand as well or the reproduction of inquiry report of Sub inspector level?”
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioners argued that the Delhi Police have justified the speech calling to ‘kill’ the minorities as they see it to be for protection of community ethics. Sibal reportedly stated, “They say that they are ready to kill. The police say this is to protect the ethics of the community. Your lordships may have to decide constitutionally what the ethics are.”
In view of this, the Bench suggested Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, appearing for the Delhi Police, to have a re-look at the affidavit. Accordingly, ASG agreed to relook and file a fresh affidavit.
While the matter has been listed for May 9, the Court has directed the Delhi Police to file a better affidavit by May 4.
A PIL was filed by former Patna High Court judge Anjana Prakash and journalist Qurban Ali seeking criminal action against the alleged anti-Muslim hate speeches made at the ‘Dharam Sansad’ in Haridwar and Delhi. 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 have not even registered an FIR.
The petition 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 highlighted that no substantive action has been taken by either Uttarakhand or Delhi Police in the matter. While the former had registered FIRs and not arrested a single accused, the latter had not even registered an FIR. Further, the FIRs lodged missed 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.
In their affidavit the Police said, “After a deep inquiry and evaluation of the contents of the video, the police did not find any substance in the videos as per the allegations levelled by the complainants. In the video clip of the Delhi incident, there is no utterance against any particular community. Hence, after inquiry and after evaluation of the alleged video clip, it was concluded that the alleged hate speech did not disclose any hate words against a particular community as alleged.”
Dharam Sansad in Haridwar and Himachal Pradesh
On April 13, 2022, the Court had directed the Uttarakhand government on April 13, 2022, to file a status report on the progress of investigations with respect to the hate speeches made in Haridwar.
Today, the Counsel appearing for Uttarakhand Government informed the Court that the investigation was completed and chargesheets have been filed accordingly. The Counsel further went on to raise an objection regarding the locus standi of the petitioner to which the Court replied, “We have read it everywhere.”
With respect to the Dharam Sansad event in Himachal Pradesh, Sibal submitted that the petitioners have filed a fresh interlocutory application in view of some scandalous things said at the event but the bench posted the application to April 26, 2022 since the cause list did not notify the appearance of the Counsel of the State of Himachal Pradesh.
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