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Delhi violence: HC gives Centre a month to reply on plea seeking FIRs for hate speeches

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The Delhi High Court today agreed to implead Centre as one of the parties in a plea by social activist Harsh Mander seeking FIRs against leaders for making hate speeches which allegedly incited violence in several parts of Delhi.

A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Hari Shankar adjourned the plea to April 13 as the Centre has been given four weeks time to file a counter affidavit in the case.

Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for Mander requested the court for a closer date arguing that every day 10-12 people are being killed.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for Delhi Police Commissioner challenged the petition that an urgent hearing has been asked by the petitioner for speeches that were made months ago.

A large number of speeches were made in the last few days, we can’t be choosy and selective about it. We need time to go through all the videos. Considering the nature of matter, there was no urgency, Mehta said.

Despite repetitive requests of SG to postpone the hearing and delay the filing of FIRs, a bench of Justices Muralidhar and Talwant Singh had yesterday directed the police to immediately file FIRs against those who were involved in making hate speeches.

Today, SG submitted that the situation in Delhi is not conducive at this moment. “FIRs will be registered at an appropriate time,” Mehta said.

Standing Counsel Rahul Mehra stated that 11 FIRS have already been filed with respect to the Delhi riots, then why can’t FIRs be registered for the alleged hate speeches. He reiterated that registering of FIRs is just the first step towards the investigation. It can always be cancelled later if the case is not made out.

Special Commissioner of Police clarified that till date 48 FIRs have been registered, however, SG stated that all the FIRs pertaining to the loss of property etc.

Standing Counsel Rahul Mehra states that when 11 FIRs have already been registered with respect to the Delhi Riots, why not register FIR for hate speech.

Gonsalves coming out in support of protests said these protests against CAA were going on peacefully. This is quite significant that people can protest strongly and yet society can live at peace. This is the sign of the strength of Indian democracy. However, inciteful slogans and call for killing protesters changed everything.

“The message that these slogans sent out was to kill and spread hatred, which ultimately left so many people dead on the streets,” Gonsalves submitted.

He pleaded that it is indisputable that these statements (alleged hate speeches) were made and prima facie case is made that they resulted in murder. “This court needs to send out a message that no one will be spared for making hate speeches, no matter how senior leader you are. The people who have made hate speeches that incited the mobs to kill should be booked for murder,” said Gonsalves.

Social activist Harsh Mander moved High Court seeking an enquiry by Special Investigation Team (SIT) to inquire into the instances of violence which unfolded on February during CAA protests.

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