Leaders’ hate speech challenges constitutional ethos and warrants tough action: Delhi HC | India News



NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday said hate speech by elected officials, political and religious leaders warrants strict measures as it can incite violence and feelings of resentment against members of specific communities.
The court made the comments while denying a motion by CPM leaders Brinda Karat and KM Tiwari challenging a magistrate’s court’s refusal to order the registration of an FIR against Union Minister Anurag Thakur and his BJP colleague and MP Pravesh Verma for their alleged hate speeches during the CAA. protests.
While Judge Chandra Dhari Singh refused to interfere with the trial court’s order, he made scathing remarks about political leaders spouting hate speech laced with communal undertones.
Here are some observations…
* The tribunal observed that there have been cases of hate speech in India targeted against people from specific communities, based on the demographic composition which led to demographic changes in the country subsequently.
* The court cited the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir Valley as a prime example of such acts.
*He said that mass leaders and those in high office should conduct themselves with the utmost integrity and responsibility and that it is not for leaders to engage in acts or speeches that cause divisions among communities, create tension and disrupt the social fabric in society.
* The judge said elected leaders in a democracy owe their accountability not only to their electorate, but also to society and the nation as a whole and, ultimately, to the Constitution.
* “Hate speech held in particular by elected officials, political and religious leaders based on religion, caste, region or ethnicity militates against the concept of fraternity, upsets the constitutional ethos, and violates Articles 14, 15, 19, 21 read with Section 38 of the Constitution and is in flagrant violation of the fundamental duties prescribed by Section 51-A (a), (b), (c), (e), (f), (i), (j) of the Constitution and therefore warrants strict peremptory action by central and state governments,” the court said.
* The court said that effective regulation of “hate speech” at all levels is necessary and that all law enforcement agencies must ensure that existing law does not remain a dead letter.
* The court also quoted a shloka from the Bhagwad Gita to point out that “whatever deed a leader does, ordinary men follow in his footsteps; and whatever standards he sets by his deeds, they are pursued by his subjects”.
Plea against Thakur, Verma rejected
The High Court, meanwhile, refused to interfere with the trial court’s order and said that by law the required sanction must be obtained from the competent authority for the registration of the FIR in these facts.
The judge, who reserved the verdict on March 25, noted that Delhi police had conducted a preliminary investigation into the case and informed the trial court that on the face of it no recognizable offense had been established and that in order to order an investigation, the court of first instance was required to take cognizance of the facts and the evidence available to it, which was not admissible without a valid sanction.
The tribunal de grande instance concluded that the tribunal de première instance had therefore rightly ruled on the applicants’ plea on the point of its maintainability in the absence of a sanction.
The petitioners had claimed in their complaint to the Magistrate’s Court that “Thakur and Verma had sought to incite people following which three shootings took place at two different protest locations in Delhi”.
It was the petitioners’ grievance that at the Rithala rally in Delhi, Thakur on January 27, 2020, incited the crowd to shout an inflammatory slogan – “shoot the traitors” – after lashing out at anti- CAA.
They had further claimed that Verma had, on January 28, 2020, allegedly made inflammatory comments against anti-CAA protesters in Shaheen Bagh.
The high court said: ‘The (trial) court cannot order the registration of the FIR or the investigation of an offense in the exercise of power under section 156(3) of the Code (of criminal proceedings) relating to the offense where the sanction must be taken before a court can take cognizance of it”,
“Once the investigative body, having conducted its preliminary investigation, has reached the conclusion that no prima facie recognizable infringement is established, the ACMM shall apply its mind to direct the investigation or to registration of the FIR. However, as previously stated, in order to order an investigation, the ACMM in this case would be required to take cognizance of the facts/evidence available to them, which is not admissible without there being a sanction. valid,” the High Court said. .
In its 66-page order, the High Court noted that an “additional level of review albeit discretionary” is provided under section 196(3) of the Code as a sanction to avoid ordering an investigation into certain offences, including those involving hate. discourse, in a “common way”.
“If such investigations are routinely ordered for violations of Sections 295-A, 153-A and 505, it would lead to a situation where thousands of FIRs would be registered to settle scores against political opponents across the country. This would not only be undesirable and constitute an abuse of process, but would also result in the suffocation of the already overstretched criminal machinery,” the High Court said.
(With PTI entries)


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