Delhi riots (2)- Hearing in Delhi High Court and other pleas, with transfer of Judge

Delhi Riots Case: Murder Accused of IB Officer Ankit Sharma Denied Bail by the Court

In last article (Delhi riot(1) violence and mid-night hearing in High Court Of Delhi) , attempt was made to deal with facts which lead to violence and midnight hearing at the High Court Of Delhi. In this article, attempt has been made to cover arguments and counter-arguments in the plea filed before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court.

Brief facts:

Deciding on the plea filed by social activist, Harsh Mander, seeking a Special Investigation Team to be constituted to inquire into the instances of violence in the north-east part of Delhi, the division bench of Justice Muralidhar And Justice Talwant Singh has issued notice to the Commissioner of Delhi Police and have asked a police officer to be present during the hearing. The case was mentioned before this by senior counsel Colin Gonsalves as the Division Benches of Chief Justice DN Patel, and Justice GS Sistani, were not sitting on that day[1]. The court agreed to hear matter on 12.30 on 26th February 2020.

Arguments advanced:

Arguments of petitioner:

On resuming, hearing impediment of Union of India was made. Senior counsel Colin Gonsalves argued that it’s shocking to see the state saying that we should wait for registration of FIRs. Then learned counsel Gonsalves read out provisions of IPC which he wants to press against Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma.

Justice Muralidhar, on plea for direction to register FIR against politicians for hate speech opined that, “We’re right now at the Lalita Kumari framework, we have to see whether any prima facie case is made out to warrant registration of FIR’. SG argued that FIRs will be registered an appropriate time. ‘What’s the appropriate time, Mr. Mehta? The city is burning’ – Justice Muralidhar asked. His lordship further opined that, “It’s our constitutional duty to protect lives. Anguish of constitutional courts must be taken seriously. It’s the duty of constitutional courts to ask questions to executive bodies about their duties[2]

Arguments by respondent:

Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta submits that he’s been authorised by LG of Delhi to appear in this matter on the behalf of the respondent. Learned Solicitor general argued that matter is listed before Chief justice’s court and going to be heard on the next day. To this his lordship, Justice Muralidhar replied that Chief Justice was on leave and as per the working of the mentioning, ‘Because petitioner wanted urgent orders, we took it up today.’
The case also saw the contention between Advocate Rahul Mehra upon the appearance of SG for commissioner of police and deputy commissioner of police of Delhi. SG Tushar Mehta that this question of appointing of counsel is a petty issue. To this Justice Murlidhar asked, ‘Isn’t lodging of FIRs against the culprits an urgent matter?

Moving Further, Justice Muralidhar asked the police officer as to whether he has watched the video clips of BJP leaders which has led to demand of FIRs against them? To which, officer responded, ‘I’ve watched two of them, haven’t watched Kapil Mishra’s video’.  Justice Muralidhar ordered for clip regarding Kapil Mishra’s speech to be played in the court. Then Matter was adjourned till 2:30 pm[3].

Decision of the court:

The Delhi High Court on 26th February directed the Delhi Police Commissioner to “take a conscious decision” on registration of FIR in respect of inflammatory speeches allegedly made by politicians including but not limited to BJP leaders Anurag Thakur, PraveshVerma, Kapil Mishra and AbhayVerma[4]. The court listed the matter on 27th February.[5]

Key factors:

  • 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[6].
    The Delhi High Court on the same day asked highest functionaries in both state and central government to personally meet the victims and their families[7].The Court will consider the matter again on February 28[8].
  • TRANSFER OF JUSTICE MURLIDHAR: The Centre, on same night notified the transfer of Justice Dr S Muralidhar from Delhi High Court to Punjab and Haryana High Court. The Supreme Court collegium had recommended his transfer on February 12.[9]
  • Notably, on 27th February, Advocate Sanjiv Kumar has moved an application before the Delhi High Court seeking impleadment in a pending petition on Delhi riots. Kumar has sought FIRs to be registered against personalities such as actor Swara Bhaskar, RJ Sayema, activist Harsh Mander and AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan[10].The Delhi High Court on 28th February issued notice in a petition seeking a National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe to find out the “anti-national” forces behind the protests in connection with the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA). (Ajay Gautamvs GNCT of Delhi &Ors) The petition also seeks to find out the source of funding behind the same.[11]

Edited by Pragash Boopal

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje