The Delhi High Court on Thursday adjourned to April 13 the hearing on a petition seeking FIRs against three BJP leaders for their alleged hate speeches . The Central government and the Delhi Police have been given four weeks to file their affidavit on the issue .
A Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice C. Hari Shankar also allowed the Central government to become a party to the matter, following submissions by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
After the affidavit is filed by the police, which comes under the Union Home Ministry, petitioner Harsh Mander is expected to file his reply.
During the hearing, Mr. Mehta — who has been authorised by the Delhi Lieutenant-Governor to represent the Delhi Police — said the time was not “conducive” to file FIRs related to the alleged hate speeches as the priority right now was to ensure peace. The authorities had examined all the video clips related to the speeches and FIRs would be registered at an appropriate time.
Special Commissioner of Police Praveer Ranjan submitted that the police had registered 48 cases related to rioting, following which Mr. Mehta said all stakeholders were currently working to ensure normalcy and that any hurried intervention might not be conducive.
Mr. Mehta said the petitioner “in his wisdom” had picked only three speeches and that the police had received a large number of speeches alleged to be inflammatory in nature.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, representing the petitioner, sought immediate registration of FIRs against anyone who had indulged in hate speech , to send across a strong message. Earlier, protests were going on very peacefully, with the exception of traffic snarls and some small incidents, but the impugned slogans changed the whole thing. Provocative speeches were made by people who held high positions in party and the government. Those videos became viral. The implication was that it was alright to kill, he said.
“We want an order very quickly...it is indisputable that the statements were made. It is a clear cut and prima facie case that it is hate speech resulting in murder...”, he said.
Advocate Chetan Sharma, who appeared for Lawyers' Voice that has filed another petition seeking FIRS against several others on allegations of hate speech, interjected, after which Mr. Gonsalves said action should be taken against anybody making such speeches to send a strong message.
On Wednesday, the Bench comprising Justice S. Muralidhar asked the police to take a “conscious decision” on registering FIRs after watching all the videos, “not limited to the videos played in the Court, but any other videos that might be provided to them and which they perhaps already are in possession”