New Delhi: As communal violence in Delhi abated, Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde on Monday said that the Supreme Court also wishes for peace but there are “limitations”, adding it cannot give “preventive reliefs”.
Justice Bobde made the remarks as it agreed to hear on March 4 a plea seeking lodging of FIRs against BJP leaders – Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma, Kapil Mishra and Abhay Verma – for their purported hate speeches which allegedly sparked violence in Delhi. At least 42 people have died and more than 200 were injured during the communal violence in northeast Delhi that broke out on February 23 in connection with the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
The petition filed by 10 victims of the violence was mentioned for urgent listing before a bench headed by Justice Bobde which said it would be heard on Wednesday.
“We are not saying that people should die. That kind of pressure we are not equipped to handle. We cannot stop things from happening. We cannot give preventive reliefs. We feel a kind of pressure on us,” the CJI said when senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioners, sought urgent listing of the plea.
The bench, also comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant, said the court can deal with a situation only after it takes place and it is not equipped to prevent it.
“The kind of pressure on us, you should know, we cannot handle that,” the bench said, adding, “We also read newspapers and the comments which are made. It is as if the court is responsible”.
“We would wish peace but you know that there are limitations,” the CJI told Gonsalves, who said the court can prevent any further deterioration of the situation.
When the bench said the Delhi high court is already seized of petitions on Delhi violence, Gonsalves said the high court has deferred the matter for almost six weeks and it was disappointing.
“When people are still dying then why cannot the high court hear it urgently,” he said and urged the apex court to list the plea for hearing on Tuesday.
The bench agreed to list the petition for hearing on Wednesday and said, “We will see what we can do”.
In a related matter, the Delhi High Court asked the police to file a status report on measures taken by it for medical treatment and rehabilitation of the violence-affected people.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar directed the Delhi Police to submit a report on the measures taken by them in compliance with the court’s February 26 order by which certain directions were made for rehabilitation of victims.
In the apex court, the petition by victims sought several directions, including the constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) consisting of officers from outside Delhi and headed by an officer of “integrity and repute” and capable of acting in an independent manner.
It has also sought a direction to a retired judge to enquire into the “communal attacks” and to identify the police persons involved in rioting and direct that such cops be dismissed from service in accordance with the law.
“All of those have experienced a nexus between the hate speech slogan made by 4 prominent persons belonging to the party in power that were repeated again and again not only in Delhi but across the country, which exhorted the followers of these leaders to take the law into their own hands and kill peaceful protestors,” the plea said.
The petition sought prosecution of Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma, Abhay Verma and Kapil Mishra, alleging they engaged in “criminal activities” which led to the violence.
Meanwhile, a separate petition has been filed in the apex court by social activist Yogita Bhayana seeking a court-monitored SIT probe into the riots and murder of the intelligence bureau (IB) official Ankit Sharma in the violence.
The plea, filed through advocate Utsav Singh Bains, also sought departmental action against police officials who have failed to prevent the violence.
The plea said if the law and order situation deteriorates further, the Centre should be directed to request the Army to maintain law and order in Delhi and particularly in the areas where “communal attacks on the people are most ferocious”.