SC Issues Notice on PIL for Independent Investigation of Haridwar Hate Speech
The bench headed by CJI NV Ramana is hearing a petition by journalist Qurban Ali and former HC judge Anjana Prakash.
The Supreme Court has issued notice on the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) regarding the hate speech against Muslims at a recent 'Dharam Sansad' in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, and will hear the matter again after ten days.
The PIL, filed by journalist Qurban Ali and former Patna High Court judge, Justice Anjana Prakash, was briefly considered by a bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal requested the court to ask state and central authorities to respond as soon as possible so that more such 'Dharam Sansads' as announced by the organisers of the event, can be prevented.
"The next such event is planned for Aligarh, in the middle of a state election," he told the court. "If no quick steps are taken, these 'Dharam Sansads' will be organised across the country, in Una, Dasna, etc. The entire country's atmosphere will be vitiated. It is contrary to the ethos of the country, it is incitement of violence."
The PIL requests an independent probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the hate speech at the Haridwar event as well as a separate event in Delhi, organised by Sudarshan News chief Suresh Chavhanke at the same time, where similar speeches were made.
While the Uttarakhand Police have registered an FIR regarding the incident, there have been no arrests made under it and the FIR does not invoke some important relevant provisions. Despite a complaint being filed against the Delhi event, no FIR has been registered by the Delhi Police so far.
There was some confusion with the judges being told that the matter should be tagged with another case before Justice AM Khanwilkar, but this was eventually clarified.
Sibal had asked the court to take some steps before 23 January, when the next 'Dharam Sansad' is supposed to take place in Aligarh. The bench said they were given liberty to approach the relevant authorities with their concerns about the event.
Calls for Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing
The hate-filled 'Dharam Sansad' ran from 17-19 December 2021 and was organised by Hindutva leader Yati Narsinghanand, notorious priest of the Dasna Devi temple in Ghaziabad and recently anointed 'Mahamandaleshwar' of the Juna Akhara.
The event saw explicit calls for genocide and ethnic cleansing from several right-wing Hindu leaders, recorded on video and shared widely.
Swami Prabodhanand Giri was heard saying:
"Like Myanmar, our police, our politicians, our army, and every Hindu must pick up weapons and conduct a Safayi Abhiyan (ethnic cleansing). There is no other option left."
Annapurna Maa, Mahamandleshwar of Niranjini Akhada and the general secretary of Hindu Mahasabha, had said:
"If you want to finish them off, then kill them...We need 100 soldiers who can kill 20 lakh of them to win this."
Dharamdas Maharaj from Bihar had said:
"If I was present in Parliament when PM Manmohan Singh said that minorities have first right over national resources, I would've followed Nathuram Godse, I'd have shot him six times in the chest with a revolver."
Anand Swaroop Maharaj had said:
"If the governments do not listen to our demand (He means the establishment of a Hindu Rashtra through violence against minorities), we will wage a war far scarier than the 1857 revolt."
While an FIR was registered by the Uttarakhand Police over the incident, the petitioners have argued that no effective steps have been taken by the police against the organisers and speakers at the event.
Neither have any arrests been made, nor does the FIR include offences of conspiracy, waging war against the state, and offences prejudicial to national integration under the IPC.
The failure to act here and of the Delhi Police over the Delhi event are argued to be violations of the Genocide Convention and the Supreme Court's guidelines in the Tehseen Poonawalla case, which had specified a 'duty of care' for the authorities to prevent hate speech and communal violence.
Tushar Gandhi, great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, has filed an intervention application in the court noting the violation of guidelines by the apex court for appointment of nodal officers to prevent such speeches.
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