Delhi violence: CJI says courts can’t stop things from happening

He agrees to hear plea on Wednesday

Updated - December 03, 2021 06:55 am IST

Published - March 02, 2020 12:26 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A. Bobde on Monday orally said courts were not “equipped” to handle palpable “pressure” being created to somehow step in and prevent violence in Delhi.

"We are not saying people should die. But this kind of pressure we are not equipped to handle. We cannot stop things from happening. We cannot prevent anything… We feel a kind of pressure on us... We cannot handle that. It is as if the court is responsible”, he remarked. Courts came into the picture only after an incident happened, he explained.

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The CJI’s observations came when senior advocate Colin Gonsalves made a mentioning before him to urgently intervene and pass directions to arrest those delivering hate speeches and to prevent spread of violence.  

Mr. Gonsalves was appearing for Maharashtra resident Shaikh Mujtaba Farooq and nine others from Delhi. The petitioners said they were attacked by mobs while peacefully protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act .

Chief Justice Bobde agreed to hear their case on Wednesday (March 4).

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Mr. Gonsalves alleged five or six prominent people were going about instigating violence. “At least 10 to 11 people are dying everyday. Last night, five or seven people died”, he submitted. The court should either take up the case in the afternoon or latest by Tuesday (March 3).

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He said despite the deaths of people, a Delhi High Court Bench led by Chief Justice D.N. Patel had “very disappointingly” adjourned the next hearing in the case by six weeks. Earlier, the same High Court had adjourned a case for fair inquiry into the Jamia violence by several weeks, he submitted. Such long adjournments allowed these human rights cases to stagnate and gave the government elbow room, he stated.

But Chief Justice Bobde said courts could not handle such pressure.

“There are many things Your Lordships cannot handle, but we are here to help you... People are dying every day,” Mr. Gonsalves responded.

Chief Justice Bobde said, “We will hear, but you have to understand we cannot prevent such things from happening. We do wish peace, but we know we have limitations. We read media reports... it is as if we are somehow responsible”.

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The petition sought to register FIRs against BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Pravesh Verma and all those who had engaged in hate speech and “criminal activities” like rioting, murder and arson. It also sought the setting up of a special investigation team with officers from outside Delhi to probe the February riots. An inquiry committee headed by a retired judge should probe the police persons involved and exemplary compensation granted to victims. The Centre should be directed to call in the Army if the law and order situation further deteriorated, it stated.

The petition wanted the full list of persons detained by police and para-military forces made public and CCTV footage of riot-affected areas preserved. It also demanded the immediate release of post-mortem reports to the victims’ families.

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