India’s second-highest ranking law officer sees no 'urgency' in a case on Delhi violence

Violent clashes over India's new citizenship laws continue in Delhi's Northeast districts for a third day as the Delhi High Court hears social activist Harsh Mander's petition against hate speeches by BJP leaders inciting violenceIANS

  • India’s Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Delhi High Court that the issue of hate speeches inciting violence in Northeast districts of Delhi is not ‘urgent enough’.
  • When asked the issue of urgency, Mehta claimed ignorance and said that he had not seen any of the videos that are being circulated on social media.
  • Justice Muralidhar then ordered the court to play the video of BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s speech for everyone present.
  • “We can’t let another 1984 scenario happen in this city, not under the watch of this court,” said Muralidhar.
  • The bench has asked the Delhi Police to take a conscious decision on registration of FIRs for hate speech by tomorrow.
It has been four months since protests and clashes have been rocking Delhi over India’s new citizenship laws. This week, however, things took a violent turn compromising the peace and security of its citizens. Recognising the urgency of the situation, the Delhi High Court agreed to hear the petition filed by social activist Harsh Mander seeking an independent judicial inquiry into the violence currently plaguing Northeast districts of New Delhi.

Violent clashes continue over India's new citizenship laws in Northeast districts of New Delhi for the third dayIANS

The petition draws a link between the turbulence and the provocative speeches by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders like Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur and Pravesh Verma, according to LiveLaw.

But when the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta — the second-highest ranking law officer in the country — came to court to argue on the behalf of the government he claimed that making a case to arrest BJP leaders for making hate speeches is not ‘urgent enough’ to be addressed today.

Areas affected by violence in Northeast DelhiIANS

The issue of urgency
When the bench started to discuss the issue of urgency, Mehta claimed ignorance. “I’m not aware of the facts, I need to do that first before making my submissions,” he said.

Justice Muralidhar however pointed out that he was only asking Mehta’s opinion as an officer of the law — bearing in mind that thousands of people were exposed to videos of the speeches online and social media.

To this Mehta responded, “I haven’t watched the videos,” according to LiveLaw. Muralidhar cited concern and ordered for the clip of Kapil Mishra’s speech to be played in court so that everyone can watch it.

Mehta tried one last Hail Mary claiming that he doesn’t watch television news before making his submissions.“Unfortunately, that's not the privilege that judges have,” quipped Muralidhar and continued to play the video.

The police officer present in court was able to identify the Sub Inspector present in the video. As the court adjourned for lunch, reports came in of an intelligence officer found dead in Northeast Delhi.

“We can’t let another 1984 scenario happen in this city, not under the watch of this court,” said Muralidhar when the court reconvened.

Hate speeches
The petition filed by Mander argues that hate speeches added fuel to fire. They flared up people against CAA protestors with communal slogans like, “ Goli maaro gadaron ko” (shoot the traitors) and “Jai Sriram” (victory to Lord Ram).

It specifically points to a speech made by Kapil Mishra on February 23 where he asked a group of people to “take action” against the protests.

Anti-CAA protests in New DelhiIANS

At the time of filing the petition, the 10 people had reportedly died as a result of the violence in the Northeast districts of New Delhi. In less than a day, the death toll has nearly doubled. Over 180 are injured and languishing at hospitals.

The petition also points out that in addition to inciting violent clashes, the police has also been a quiet spectator as the incidents of arson and rioting unfolded.

Police gathers to address the violent clashes in Northeast DelhiIANS

When the hearing began at 12:30 pm, Mehta submitted that he had been authorised by the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi to appear.

However, when the petitioner’s lead counsel Rahul Mehra argued that the LG can’t authorise any such action without the advice of the council of ministers, Mehta tried to defer the proceedings to tomorrow.

As multiple cases are running across courts, the Supreme Court yesterday believed the situation was ‘urgent’.

"This city has seen enough violence," concluded Muralidhar. The bench has asked the Delhi Police to take a conscious decision on registration of FIRs for hate speech by tomorrow.

See also:
Congress president Sonia Gandhi asks Amit Shah to quit over Delhi violence

The violence in Delhi is exploding— at least 10 dead, a mosque burnt, and journalists attacked is making rest of India anxious

Delhi violence: HC urges Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to visit the affected areas 'for confidence-building among people'

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