New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday granted time to several political leaders and others to file their responses to pleas to make them parties to proceedings seeking FIR and investigation against them for allegedly delivering hate speeches leading to the February 2020 riots here.
A bench headed by Justice Siddharth Mridul, while hearing a batch of petitions concerning the 2020 riots in north-east Delhi, noted that while lawyers were present in court on behalf of some of the political leaders and public figures, others remained unrepresented, and directed that the proposed respondents be given copies of the paper book in the case along with other relevant material.
The proposed respondents are at liberty to file a reply to the application within two weeks, said the bench also comprising Justice Gaurang Kanth.
Earlier this year, the court had issued notices to several politicians, including Anurag Thakur (BJP), Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (Congress), Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, and others, on two applications in the matter.
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 was 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.
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.
Apart from seeking action against those who allegedly gave the hate speeches in the backdrop of the introduction of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, the other petitions have also sought relief which includes 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, the police had 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 the investigation into the riots has 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, a plea seeking registration of FIR against some politicians for their alleged hate speeches which purportedly led to the north-east Delhi riots.
The matter would be heard next on July 4.