Friday, October 7, 2022

Delhi HC dismisses plea for hate speech FIR against BJP leaders

The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed a petition by CPI(M) leaders Brinda Karat and KM Tiwari challenging the trial court’s refusal to direct the registration of an FIR against Union Minister Anurag Thakur and his BJP colleague and MP Pravesh Verma for their alleged hate speeches concerning anti-CAA protest at Shaheen Bagh here.
Justice Chandra Dhari Singh, who had reserved the verdict on March 25, refused to interfere with the trial court’s order and said that under the law, the requisite sanction is required to be obtained from the competent authority for the registration of FIR in the present facts.
The judge said that the trial court rightly decided the petitioners’ plea and that no case for exercise of the high court’s writ jurisdiction was made out in view of the presence of alternate remedy under the law.
The petitioners had assailed the trial court order before the high court on the ground that a cognisable offence is made out against the two leaders in the present case and an FIR should be lodged against them for their alleged hate speeches concerning the anti-CAA protest at Shaheen Bagh here and that they were only asking the police to investigate the matter. The petitioners had claimed in their complaint before the trial court that “Thakur and Verma had sought to incite people as a result of which three incidents of firing took place at two different protest sites in Delhi.”
Delhi Police had defended the trial court order, saying that it rightly held that it does not have jurisdiction to deal with the case and referred to the Supreme Court’s judgements which said that if a judge is saying he does not have jurisdiction, he should not comment on merits and that is the right approach.
It was the petitioners’ grievance that at the Rithala rally here, Thakur had, on January 27, 2020, egged on the crowd to raise an incendiary slogan – “shoot the traitors” – after lashing out at anti-CAA protesters.
They had further claimed that Verma had, on January 28, 2020, allegedly made incendiary comments against the anti-CAA protesters in Shaheen Bagh.
The trial court had, on August 26, 2021, dismissed the petitioners’ complaint on the ground that it was not sustainable as the requisite sanction from the competent authority, the central government, was not obtained.
In the complaint, Karat and Tiwari had sought lodging of FIRs under various sections, including 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.), 153-B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the IPC.
It had also sought action under other sections of the IPC, including 298 (uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation).
The maximum punishment for the offences is a jail term of seven years.
The petitioners had approached the trial court after Karat’s written complaints to the Commissioner of Police and the SHO, Parliament Street, were stated to have failed to elicit any response.