Delhi violence 2020: Supreme Court asks Harsh Mander to not participate in hearing

Harsh Mander. File   | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

The Supreme Court on Wednesday stopped activist Harsh Mander from participating in a hearing on a batch of petitions seeking immediate registration of FIRs against leaders who instigated communal violence in Delhi with their hate speeches.

Mr. Mander was accused of making disparaging remarks about the Supreme Court in a public speech.

The Delhi Police said it had transcripts made from the video of the speech. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the police, said Mr. Mander was seen “instigating people” and goading people that “ultimate justice” can be got only on the streets rather than from the Supreme Court or Parliament.

Advocate Karuna Nandy, for Mr. Mander, said the allegations were false. There was no prior notice given to their side before such allegations were levelled in court. She sought a copy of the transcripts so that a proper reply could be filed by Mr. Mander against the accusations.

In fact, it was a judge on the Bench, Justice B.R. Gavai, who first referred to the alleged speech made by Mr. Mander. Mr. Mehta immediately picked up the issue and said it raised a “pertinent” issue.

“If this is what you [Mander] feel about the Supreme Court, then we have to decide what to do with you,” Chief Justice of India Bobde sternly addressed Ms. Nandy.

She was asked to sit down and not participate in the hearing until the issue regarding Mr. Mander’s remarks were sorted out. The court went on to hear in detail the petition filed separately by Delhi riots victims, represented by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves.

Later in the day, the Delhi Police filed an affidavit terming his speech as “seriously contemptuous” as it makes “derogatory remarks” against the Supreme Court before a “huge gathering of people”. The affidavit refers to a May 2, 2019 order passed by the Supreme Court in connection with an Assam NRC case to allege that Mr. Mander “is known for his contemptuous stand and bringing the judiciary as an institution and individual judges to disrepute. Mr. Mander would be filing his response to these allegations.

It was Mr. Mander’s petition that led the Delhi High Court to assemble at midnight recently and order the Delhi Police to ensure the safe passage and medical treatment for riot victims. Mr. Mehta criticised that order.

During the hearing on Wednesday, Mr. Mehta’s reply to a question from the CJI about the registration of FIRs against those behind the hate speeches was greeted with loud guffaws from some lawyers in the courtroom.

“We will stop this proceedings... This is a court and not a place for mocking people just because they are on the other side,” Chief Justice Bobde said.

Mr. Mehta recounted how two Delhi High Court judges were heckled by some lawyers who shouted ‘shame, shame’ at them during the Jamia violence hearing.

In turn, Mr. Gonsalves, who represented Mr. Mander earlier in the Delhi High Court, recounted the picture of students lying in the hospital with “broken bones and bandaged heads, which were the prize of police action”.

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Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 1:41:11 AM |

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