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New Delhi: The Delhi Police said it will file a “better” affidavit after Supreme Court on Friday, April 22, pulled up the former for its affidavit which concluded that no hate speech was made at a December 2021 Hindu Yuva Vahini event in Delhi, and added that the gathering was made up of people who were motivated to “save the ethics of their community”, The Hindu has reported.
“The affidavit has been filed by a Deputy Commissioner of Police. We hope he has understood the nuances. Has he merely reproduced the inquiry report or applied his mind? Is it your stand as well or the reproduction of inquiry report of Sub Inspector level officer?” a two-judge bench, comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Abhay S Oka, pointedly asked, according to LiveLaw.in.
The Delhi Police’s affidavit under consideration was filed in response to a PIL (public interest litigation) moved by retired high court judge Anjana Prakash and journalist Qurban Ali, which had said “open call for genocide of Muslims in order to achieve ethnic cleansing” was made during the Hindu Yuva Vahini event in Delhi and Haridwar Dharma Sansad. The Delhi Police’s affidavit was specifically in response to the Delhi event, held at an auditorium in the city’s Govindpuri.
On December 19, 2021, Sudarshan News TV editor Suresh Chavhanke at the Hindu Yuva Vahini event was seen administering an oath to a group of people to “die for and kill” to make India a “Hindu rashtra”, or a Hindu nation. The video of the said oath was posted on Twitter by Chavhanke himself.
In response to the PIL, the Delhi Police in its affidavit dismissed any hate speech that was made during the event. On the other hand, it argued that speeches were about “empowering one’s religion to prepare itself to face the evils that could endanger its existence, which is not even remotely connected to a call for genocide of any particular religion”.
“None of the words spoken during the events in any manner whatsoever overtly and explicitly described Indian Muslims as usurpers of territory, and as predators of land, livelihoods and of Hindu women, and nothing was said or done which could create an environment of paranoia amongst any religion, caste or creed,” The Hindu quoted Esha Pandey, deputy commissioner of police, Southeast Delhi, as saying in the affidavit.
The affidavit then goes on to advise petitioners to “practice tolerance to the views of others” while adding that the fundamental freedom of speech could not be suppressed unless it threatened “community interests”.
Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioners, questioned the reading of the Delhi Police, asking if the Delhi Police was of the opinion that a call to “kill” was reasonable as long as it saved the “ethics of the community”.
“In the speech in question, they say, ‘We are ready to kill’! And the Delhi Police say it is to ‘save the ethics of the community?’ Your Lordships may fix it for hearing and decide what constitutionally ethics are…,” LiveLaw.in quoted Sibal as saying.
At this juncture, the bench asked additional solicitor general K.M. Nataraj, appearing for the police, if any senior officer had vetted the contents of the affidavit before it was presented in the court.
“Some superior officer has seen it? Who has verified it? Has there been an application of mind as to if this stand can be taken on affidavit before the court? This affidavit is filed by the deputy commissioner of police? He accepts this position?”
Is this his understanding or only a reproduction of the IO’s [Investigating Officer’s] report? We want to understand from you the affidavit filed before this court by the deputy commissioner of police, a senior officer. We hope that he understands the nuances as also the other aspects…,” Justice A. M. Khanwilkar told ASG Nataraj.
To this, Natraj responded by saying, “We will have a relook and file a fresh affidavit.”
The bench ordered Delhi Police to submit its fresh affidavit before May 4 and posted the matter for hearing on May 9.
As far as the Haridwar Dharma Sansad event is concerned, the apex court sought a status report from the Uttarakhand government on the probe into the Haridwar speech cases last week. To this, the counsel appearing for the Uttarakhand government submitted that the investigation into the cases was complete, and charge-sheets were filed. The Uttarakhand government counsel questioned the locus standi of the petitioners.