“Why do you require five months to register an FIR?”
Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud posed these questions before Additional Solicitor General (ASG) KM Natraj, counsel for the Delhi Police, on Friday, 13 February, noting that:
The Dharam Sansad (in which alleged hate speeches were made) took place on 19 December 2021
The First Information Report (FIR) was filed five months later in May 2022
The CJI’s remarks came while hearing a contempt plea alleging blatant disobedience by DGP, Delhi Police with respect to hate speeches made at a Dharam Sansad event.
What did the bench say? According to LiveLaw, a bench of CJI Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha questioned the Delhi Police regarding the progress of the investigation in a hate speech case at the Hindu Yuva Vahini event which was held in Delhi, and helmed by Sudarshan News TV anchor Suresh Chavhanke.
Thereby, the court asked the Investigating Officer “to place on record the steps which have been taken pursuant to the investigation since the incident took place.”
The petitioners’ contention? The petitioner had alleged, that the Delhi Police had violated the directions issued by the the apex court in Tehseen S Poonawalla vs Union of India.
As per the apex court’s judgment from 2018 in the Tehseen Poonawalla case, the police is mandated to file an FIR and a chargesheet in a timely manner if calls for mob violence are made.
The violation? As per the Advocate Shadan Farast, counsel for the petitioner:
Calls for violence of a certain kind were made at the event, with one person leading and everybody taking an oath behind him (the counsel asked the bench to read the transcripts of the speeches made)
The person who is leading has a history of such activities: “Your lordships have taken note of this in judgments. He has FIRs against him. Despite that, there is a failure,”
No FIR registered for five months, no chargesheet filed, no arrest and “even in the counter filed now, they say investigation is underway”
Previously? As pointed out by the petitioners’ counsel, the Delhi Police had said in an affidavit (filed in response to a different petition) that "no hate speech was given against any community" at the event.
But the Supreme Court had not approved of this stand and asked for a “better affidavit” by a senior officer. It was in the aftermath of this that the Delhi Police had registered an FIR under Sections Section 153A, 295A, 298 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code.
So how did the Delhi Police respond this time? Responding to the apex court’s question about why it took the Delhi Police five months to file an FIR, the ASG said that the the delay was not deliberate and that the police was doing the verification.
On being asked about what progress has been made since, the ASG said that he will take instructions and file a statement.
The court, in its order, has directed the affidavit to be filed within a period of two weeks.
(With inputs from LiveLaw.)