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SC wants Centre & Uttarakhand to respond in Haridwar ‘Dharam Sansad hate speech’ case

The apex court also issued notice to Delhi Police chief and took note of an event in Delhi last month where speakers allegedly made calls for 'genocide of Muslims to achieve ethnic cleansing'.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday sought the Uttarakhand government’s response on a petition seeking a probe into the alleged hate speeches delivered at the ‘Dharam Sansad’ in Haridwar in December.

Representing the petitioner, senior advocate and Congress leader Kapil Sibal submitted that the court must hear the matter again soon, on 17 January, to prevent another similar congregation in Aligarh on 23 January. Declining to do so, the three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana said, “We give you the liberty to move a representation before the authorities. Tell them it is against the law and Supreme Court’s order.”

“We cannot do anything at this stage,” the court said, and hinted that it would hear the matter again after 10 days.

“We are issuing notice to the state government concerned, and then let us take it up,” said the bench, also comprising justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.

Apart from the Haridwar incident, the petition — filed by a former Patna High Court judge Justice Anjana Prakash — also mentions a 17 December event that took place in Delhi, organised by the Hindu Yuva Vahini, where the speakers allegedly made “open calls for genocide of Muslims in order to achieve ethnic cleansing”.

In the court Wednesday, the bench also voiced its displeasure at multiple petitions on the issue and said it would only entertain the petitioner represented by Sibal for now.

According to the order uploaded on the SC’s official website Wednesday evening, notices were also issued to the Delhi Police commissioner and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

Also read: Pakistan PM Imran Khan hits out at Modi govt’s ‘continued silence’ over Dharam Sansad event

‘Grave threat’, ‘police authorities hand in glove’

The petition is seeking an independent, impartial, and credible probe into the matter by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).

It alleges that the speeches made at the ‘Dharam Sansad’ “pose a grave threat not just to the unity and integrity of our country but also endanger the lives of millions of Muslim citizens”.

The plea also refers to a viral video that it claims shows a police officer acknowledging his allegiance to the alleged offenders. “This not only allows delivery of hate speeches with impunity but also shows that police authorities are in fact hand-in-glove with the perpetrators of communal hate,” the petition claims.

‘IPC sections deliberately not invoked’

When senior advocate Indira Jaising intervened on behalf of Tushar Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s great-grandson, on whose petition the top court in 2018 had laid down guidelines to curb incidents of mob lynching that were on a rise in the name of cow vigilantism, the bench remarked verbally that too many petitions or applications in the matter would give rise to confusion.

In her brief submission, Jaising said the real issue before the court is that the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) have “deliberately” not been invoked. “We are only asking for preventive measures,” she said.

As the bench indicated that it may not be the appropriate court to hear the matter in view of Gandhi’s application — since it sought implementation of the 2018 judgment and a judge who was part of the bench that gave the judgment would be the right person to adjudicate the issue — Sibal urged the judges to take up his petition as an independent case.

“If no quick steps are taken, such ‘Dharam Sansads’ will be held in Una, Aligarh and Dasna, at a time when the election process is on in Uttar Pradesh. Hate speeches are vitiating the atmosphere of the entire country and it will erode the ethos of this democracy,” Sibal argued. He said the Uttarakhand Police had not arrested anyone in connection with the Haridwar incident.

“Events are overtaking us, they are announcing Sansad on a daily basis. We only want it to be heard as soon as possible,” he pleaded.

Sibal assured the bench that Justice Prakash’s petition was the first seeking judicial intervention in the ‘Dharam Sansad’ issue. He said a separate set of petitions on hate speech already pending in the top court were related to mob lynching incidents.

(Edited by Rohan Manoj)

Also read: Haridwar ‘Dharam Sansad’ shows Modi is facing an internal threat from Sangh Parivar


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