Delhi HC Issues Fresh Notices To Sonia Gandhi And Others On Pleas To Implead Them In Proceedings Seeking FIR For Hate Speech
The Delhi High Court today issued fresh notices to several political leaders, including Anurag Thakur (BJP), Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and others (AAP/ AIMIM), on pleas to make them parties to proceedings seeking FIR and investigation against them for allegedly delivering hate speeches leading to the February 2020 riots amidst protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
A Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar issued fresh notices after noting that the earlier notices issued by the court on February 28 could not be served due to non-payment of process fees by the petitioners.
Notices could not be served to the proposed respondents (politicians, celebrity, activists and others) as process fees were not filed. On the filing of process fees by the petitioners within two days and taking all other steps, let fresh notices be issued to all the proposed respondents, the Bench said.
The Court listed the matter for further hearing on April 29.
The Court, which was dealing with a batch of petitions concerning the 2020 riots in north-east Delhi, issued notice to all proposed respondents -- persons against whom action is sought in two petitions.
One impleadment application was filed by petitioner Shaikh Mujtaba Farooq who has sought FIR for hate speech against BJP leaders Anurag Thakur, Kapil Mishra, Parvesh Verma and Abhay Verma.
The other application is by petitioner, 'Lawyers Voice', which has sought the registration of hate speech FIRs against Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as well as Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Amanatullah Khan, AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi, former AIMIM MLA Warris Pathan, Mehmood Pracha, Harsh Mander, Mufti Mohammad Ismail, Swara Bhasker, Umar Khalid, BG Kolse Patil former Bombay High Court Judge and others.
The Bench said this was a matter where the Supreme Court, while dealing with one of the petitions, had asked the High Court to expeditiously dispose of the plea and now the petitioners were not pursuing it properly.
You are making allegations against certain individuals and now they are not before us as you did not file process fees and notice is not issued to them. We need all material of service on record before we proceed. You don't seem to be in a hurry to go ahead with the matter, the Bench said, adding that, you cannot prosecute urgent matters like this and you are so casual.
When the counsel for NGO Lawyers Voice said that out of the 23 proposed respondents in his petition, he does not know the addresses of nine persons, the bench said it was his problem and he was responsible to find out the addresses.
If you cannot find their addresses in two days, file an amended memo of parties and drop them from the list of parties, it said.
The Court had earlier granted time to petitioners' advocates for filing of applications for adding as parties certain political leaders to the pleas alleging that they delivered hate speeches which led to the 2020 violence.
In the application filed by lawyers Sneha Mukherjee and Siddharth Seem, Farooq has stated that after the political leaders named in his plea engaged in the hate speech and exhortation to murder peaceful protestors, attacks broke out all across Delhi.
Lawyers Voice, represented by advocates Satya Ranjan Swain and Archana Sharma, has stated in the application that public discourse cannot become a tool to promote speech that is inimical to public order and if FIR is not registered, the wrongdoers will be encouraged.
Our Constitution stands for communal harmony and peace. The misinformation/hate campaigns run in the name of Anti-CAA protest is aggravated by such speeches. A provoked mind is prone to violence and has the potential to bring along insurmountable and unimaginable sufferings, the application stated.
Apart from seeking action against those who allegedly gave the hate speeches, the other petitions have also sought reliefs which include setting up of an SIT, FIRs against police officers who were allegedly involved in the violence, and disclosure of persons arrested and detained.
In its response to these prayers, police has earlier said it has already created three special investigation teams (SITs) under the crime branch and there was no evidence till now that its officers were involved in the violence.
The police, in its affidavit earlier, has said that investigation into the riots have not revealed any evidence till now that political leaders instigated or participated in the violence.
Earlier, while asking the parties to collate the issues, the court had noted that the Supreme Court, in an order of December 17, 2021, has requested it to dispose of expeditiously, preferably within three months, the plea seeking registration of FIR against some politicians for their alleged hate speeches which purportedly led to the north-east Delhi riots last year.
With PTI inputs