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Larger conspiracy behind plea on speeches against CAA: Sonia Gandhi to Delhi High Court

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Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that there was a larger conspiracy behind the petition seeking registration of a First Information Report against her and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in connection with their speeches against the Citizenship Amendment Act, which allegedly led to riots in Delhi in 2020.

The Congress leaders alleged that the petition has made opposition leaders and other non-conformist sections a party to it, while leaving out the speeches made by the members of ruling party.

This reveals the coloured nature of the exercise, they added, while responding to a PIL seeking registration of FIR against them, besides against AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, actor Swara Bhaskar and activist Harsh Mander.

A number of petitions were filed in the High Court, in connection with the hate speeches delivered during the protests in the national capital against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, which allegedly resulted in riots in the national capital in February, 2020.

While the plea filed by Shaikh Mujtaba Farooq sought registration of FIR against Union Minister Anurag Thakur and BJP leaders Kapil Mishra and Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma, another petition filed by NGO Lawyers’ Voice sought action mostly against opposition leaders.

Further, there were petitions seeking independent inquiry into the riots by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and another seeking inquiry by the National Investigating Agency (NIA) on the allegations that the agitation was funded from outside the country.

The Congress leaders said that being the leaders of opposition, they had a fundamental duty towards the citizens of the country to criticise the laws introduced by the government, which they felt, were detrimental to the rights of citizens.

The Gandhis further said that it was violative of the right to speech to prevent a citizen from forming, holding or expressing a bona fide opinion in public interest on a bill passed by Parliament and also by putting it in public domain to inform, generate a debate or build public opinion for either reforms or change.

The Congress leaders claimed that no offence could be made out against them under Sections 153A and 153B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), since their speeches were not mentioned in their entirety.

They also questioned the maintainability of the PIL, stating that the petitioner had no locus standi, lacked bona fide and was seeking a relief, which was not maintainable in law.

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