A government who wants to shoot the messenger does not wish to take action against those whose speeches are actually causing unrest: Senior Counsel Dushyant Dave to SC

The Supreme Court observed that a contract is void if prohibited by a statute under a penalty, even without express declaration that the contract is void

In present case, the bench of three judge headed by Chief Justice Bobde heard the plea  filed by Harsh Mander a petition in the Supreme Court seeking the registration of FIRs against BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Parvesh Verma, Anurag Thakur and Abhay Verma for allegedly making hate speeches.[1]The Supreme Court gave time to both parties to file reply and postponed the hearing on 13th April. 


On 27th February, A bench comprising Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar of Delhi High Court on Thursday adjourned the hearing of the petition filed by activist Harsh Mander for enquiry into Delhi Riots and action against politicians who allegedly incited violence until April 13[2]

Brief facts:

On March 4, 2020,  the CJI led bench of Supreme Court, taking note of the urgency, had agreed to consider the petition filed behalf of Delhi Riot victims after Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves challenged a lengthy adjournment during the mentioning hour[3]. The bench consisting Chief Justice Of India Justice Bobde, Justice Surya Kant And Justice B R Gavai,  heard two petitions – a writ petition filed by a group of 9 riot victims led by Shaik Mujtaba Farooq and a special leave petition filed by social activist Harsh Mander. Both the pleas sought registration of FIRs against politicians who made hate speeches which allegedly incited the violence in North East Delhi last week.

Arguments advanced:

Arguments on behalf on Harsh Mandar:

 Former IAS officer Harsh Mander has been allowed to file his reply in the meantime. Senior Counsel Dushyant Dave, representing Harsh Mander, told the Court that a selective portion of the same was being spoken about by the Delhi Police. He added that he has himself seen the entire video and found that there is nothing contemptuous or disparaging in the same. Dave went on to say,

“I’m a little concerned, a government who wants to shoot the messenger does not wish to take action against those whose speeches are actually causing unrest.[4]

Senior Counsel Rajeev Dhavan clarified that the Court no contempt notice has been issued yet.

Argument by Government:

  • Further Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who are arguing on behalf of the respondent submitted that inflammatory speeches were made from both sides, and hence the registration of FIRs at this juncture might disturb peace. During the hearing, the Solicitor General submitted that Harsh Mander had also made provocative speeches during anti-CAA protests. Mr. Mander was accused of making disparaging remarks about the Supreme Court in a public speech.
  • The Delhi Police said it had transcripts made from the video of the speech[5]. The affidavit which was filed by Delhi police refers to a May 2, 2019 order passed by the Supreme Court in connection with an Assam NRC case to allege that Mr. Mander “is known for his contemptuous stand and bringing the judiciary as an institution and individual judges to disrepute [6].


Taking note of the submissions of the law officer, the bench said, “This is what you think of this court. Before we hear you (counsel for Mander), you see the allegations and respond to them.” [7] On 6th March, 2020, the Supreme court agreed to hear on April 15 the plea filed by the Delhi Police alleging contempt on the part of Harsh Mander.

In the another petition filed before the supreme court regarding long adjournment, the bench of three judges directed that:

“we are of the view that the interests of justice will be served best if the instant writ petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India along with pending interlocutory applications is directed to be transmitted to the High Court of Delhi and listed for hearing before the Hon’ble Chief Justice of that court on 06.03.2020. The High Court of Delhi is requested to dispose of the matters as expeditiously as possible on their own merits and in accordance with law.”[8]

The Court agreed to hear the case in April and allowed the parties to file their replies and affidavits. The Delhi High Court on 6th march adjourned all the matters pertaining to the Delhi Riots till March 12. A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Hari Shankar will now take up all the petitions and impleadment applications pertaining to Delhi Riots on March 12.[9]

Edited by Pragash Boopal

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje


[1] https://thewire.in/rights/harsh-mander-jamia-speech-supreme-court-full-translation

[2] https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/situation-not-conducive-for-fir-on-hate-speech-says-solicitor-general-delhi-hc-adjourns-plea-until-april-13-153208

[3] https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/sc-seeks-harsh-manders-response-on-allegation-that-he-made-statements-against-court-153449?infinitescroll=1

[4] https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/supreme-court-to-hear-contempt-plea-against-harsh-mander-on-april-15

[5] https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/delhi-violence-2020-supreme-court-asks-harsh-mander-to-not-participate-in-hearing/article30982867.ece?utm_source=taboola

[6] https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/delhi-violence-2020-supreme-court-asks-harsh-mander-to-not-participate-in-hearing/article30982867.ece?utm_source=taboola

[7] https://thewire.in/law/sc-seeks-activist-harsh-manders-response-on-allegations-of-hate-speech

[8] https://drive.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=https://www.livelaw.in/pdf_upload/pdf_upload-370888.pdf

[9] https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/delhi-riots-delhi-hc-adjourns-all-petitions-till-march-12-directs-centre-to-file-reply-153535?infinitescroll=1