On Wednesday, a Supreme Court bench led by CJI SA Bobde ordered the matters pertaining to the registration of FIRs against BJP leaders making provocative speeches allegedly leading to the Delhi riots to be listed for hearing before the court of Delhi High Court Chief Justice DN Patel on March 6.
On the same day, the SC will hear the matter concerning the video dated December 16 last year, allegedly containing controversial remarks by Harsh Mander. During the hearing, the SC suggested that political leaders from both sides can talk to the people to bring about peace. Earlier, the Delhi HC had adjourned the matter until April 13.
At the outset, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta cited a video clip of Harsh Mander where he is allegedly seen expressing no faith in the Supreme Court. Thereafter, CJI SA Bobde asked for a transcript of his speech. When the counsel for Harsh Mander denied the contents of the video, the CJI stated that they would hear all petitioners except Mander until this issue was clarified. Advocate Karuna Nundy appeared for Harsh Mander. The CJI asked Mehta to file an affidavit about the alleged clip by 2 pm.
Subsequently, he questioned the Solicitor General on whether the atmosphere was now conducive to file FIRs. Observing that speeches had been made from both sides, Mehta argued that the authorities could not be selective in registering FIRs. While Mehta urged the SC bench to not allow Colin Gonsalves to appear for the other petitioners (riot victims), the CJI did not agree to this. Gonsalves informed the court about the provocative speeches of the BJP leaders allegedly leading to the Delhi riots. Mentioning that 468 FIRs had been registered pertaining to the riots, the Solicitor General raised questions on the petitioner’s desire to seek FIRs against three specific individuals. Then, Gonsalves quoted the order passed by the Delhi HC on the first day of the hearing. Disagreeing that arresting someone is the solution, the CJI recalled that the Bombay riots aggravated when the Shakha Pramukhs were apprehended.
Highlighting that the apex court wouldn’t normally interfere as the Delhi HC was seized of the matter, he opined that adjournment for such a long time was unnecessary. He then remarked that the court may request the Delhi HC Chief Justice to hear the matter on Friday. On the other hand, the Solicitor General stated that the Delhi HC CJ might have good reason to adjourn the matter and added that it would be naïve to assume that speeches by 2-3 leaders could lead to riots. While the SG kept pleading for more time, the SC bench did not agree with this proposition.
In the video shared by BJP leader Kapil Mishra, Harsh Mander is reportedly heard saying, “The fight won’t be won in the Supreme Court because we have seen for some time, in the matters pertaining to the NRC, Ayodhya, and Kashmir, the Supreme Court has not protected the ideals of humanity, equality, and secularism. There, we will definitely try. It is our Supreme Court. But the decision will neither happen in the Parliament nor in the Supreme Court. The future of this country- all of you belong to the young generation and you will decide what kind of country you want to give to your children. But, where will this decision happen? This will happen on the streets. And we have come on the streets.”