BJP leaders hate speech: SC refers Brinda Karat’s plea to another bench

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and M M Sundresh was informed that a similar matter was pending before another bench.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday referred to another bench a plea filed by CPI(M) leaders Brinda Karat and KM Tiwari challenging the trial court’s refusal to direct registration of an FIR against Union Minister Anurag Thakur and his BJP colleague Pravesh Verma for their alleged hate speeches on anti-CAA protest at Shaheen Bagh here.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and M M Sundresh was informed that a similar matter was pending before another bench.

The lawyer for the petitioners informed the top court that a bench headed by Justice K M Joseph was hearing a batch of petitions seeking action against hate speeches.

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The apex court said it would be better if the case is placed before the same bench.

“The matter be listed before the same bench subject to orders of the Honourable Chief Justice,” the bench said.

The top court was hearing Karat’s plea challenging the June 13, 2022 order of the Delhi High Court.

The high court had dismissed the plea challenging the trial court’s refusal to direct the registration of an FIR against Thakur and Verma for their alleged hate speeches.

The high court had refused to interfere with the trial court’s order and said under the law, the requisite sanction is required to be obtained from the competent authority for the registration of FIR in the present facts.

It had noted that the Delhi Police had conducted a preliminary inquiry in the matter and informed the trial court that prima facie no cognisable offence was made out and that for ordering any investigation, the trial court was required to take cognisance of the facts and evidence before it, which was not permissible without a valid sanction.

It was the petitioners’ grievance that at the Rithala rally here, Thakur had on January 27, 2020 allegedly egged on the crowd to raise an incendiary slogan after lashing out at anti-CAA protesters.

The Delhi Police had defended the trial court order, saying it rightly held that it does not have jurisdiction to deal with the case and referred to the Supreme Court’s judgments 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.

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.

Holding that the Constitution envisages a secular nation, a bench of Justices Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy had directed Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to promptly register criminal cases against those making hate speeches without waiting for a complaint to be filed.

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