The Supreme Court Wednesday asked the Centre, Delhi Police and Uttarakhand Police to respond to a plea seeking direction to ensure investigation and action against those who allegedly made hate speeches during two events held recently in Haridwar and the national capital.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana, which agreed to hear the plea and issued notice on it, permitted the petitioners to make representation to the concerned local authorities against holding of future ‘Dharam Sansad' events there.
The bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, posted the matter for hearing after 10 days.
The apex court was hearing a petition filed by journalist Qurban Ali and former Patna High Court judge and senior advocate Anjana Prakash, who have also sought a direction for an "independent, credible and impartial investigation" by an SIT into the incidents of hate speeches against the Muslim community.
After the bench said it was issuing notice on the plea and listed it for hearing after 10 days, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the petitioners, said the only problem is that in the meantime a ‘Dharam Sansad' is going to be held on January 23 in Aligarh and they don't want it to happen.
Sibal requested the bench to list the matter for hearing on January 17 and said they would serve all the respondents by then.
“We will permit you to make a representation to the concerned authorities. Let them act upon it,” the bench said.
The apex court permitted them to bring it to the notice of local authorities about such event, which are going to take place, and which according to the petitioners, are contrary to the penal law.
The plea, which specifically referred to the "hate speeches" delivered between the "17th and 19th of December 2021 at Haridwar and Delhi", has also sought compliance of apex court's guidelines to deal with such speeches.
One event was organised in Haridwar by Yati Narsinghanand and the other in Delhi by 'Hindu Yuva Vahini' allegedly "calling for genocide of members" of a community, it said.
At the outset, Sibal referred to a one-page transcript of what was said in the ‘Dharam Sansad' and said he doesn't want to sensationalise this issue by reading the content.
The bench observed that it would issue notice to the states and let them come before it.
Sibal said notice be issued to the Centre also because as per the apex court's earlier judgement, they have to appoint nodal officers to prevent these kinds of thing.
“Mr Sibal, you take notice to all the respondents,” the bench observed.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising mentioned an intervention application on behalf of Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.
Jaising said it was on Tushar Gandhi's petition that the apex court had rendered a decision in 2019 saying all states must appoint nodal officer to ensure that mob lynching does not take place.
“My simple application is, that judgement of the court is not being implemented. Kindly allow the intervention, that's all I am asking for,” she said.
The bench observed that for the time being, it is issuing notice to the respondents on the plea listed before it.
Sibal said the events are “overtaking us” and ‘Dharam Sansad' are being announced on daily basis.
“Let the returnable date be as soon as possible because they have announced another ‘Dharam Sansad'. The next one is on January 23 in Aligarh, in the midst of what is happening in Uttar Pradesh today,” he said.
During the hearing, the bench asked whether another bench of the apex court is already seized of petition raising similar issue.
Sibal said no similar matter is pending before any other bench of the apex court.
The CJI observed that this is a matter which has to be heard but the point is whether any other bench is already hearing similar plea.
One of the advocates appearing in the matter said there are some matters generally on hate speech which are pending but it is not related to ‘Dharam Sansad'.
“You hear this separately. What is being done. No quick steps are being taken. ‘Dharam Sansad' (events) are being held in Kurukshetra, Dasna, Aligarh and in states where process of elections is going on. This attracts several provisions,” Sibal said.
“What will happen is that atmosphere of entire country will be vitiated. This is all contrary to what this Republic stands for. It is contrary to the ethos and the values which we cherish,” he said.
Sibal said the 2019 judgement has not been implemented by the authorities.
“If that judgement would have been implemented in letter and spirit, these ‘Dharam Sansad' would not have taken place,” Jaising said, adding the 2019 verdict was on the issue of mob lynching on the allegations of cattle smuggling.
Sibal also argued that there is no law with respect to this kind of hate speech.
“We are issuing notice. You take notice. List after 10 days. We will see if it is connected to other matter, we will list, otherwise we will hear,” the bench said.
The Uttarakhand Police had filed an FIR on December 23 last year under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code against some persons including Sant Dharamdas Maharaj, Sadhvi Annapoorna alias Pooja Shakun Pandey, Yati Narsinghanand and Sagar Sindhu Maharaj.
A similar complaint was filed with the Delhi Police for the second event organised in the national capital.
The plea said that no effective steps have been taken by Uttarakhand and Delhi police.
Till date no FIR has been lodged by Delhi Police despite calls for ethnic cleansing at the event organised here, it said.