As it agreed to hear Wednesday a plea seeking registration of FIRs against political leaders and others over hate speeches, the Supreme Court Monday gave vent to its anguish, saying “we wish peace” but “courts come into the scene”, as in the recent communal clashes in Delhi, “after the thing is done” and “we cannot prevent” their occurrence.
Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, heading a bench that also comprised Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, told senior advocate Colin Gonsalves: “People think this (courts) can stop rioting… We can only deal with it after it has occurred… The kind of pressure on us, we cannot handle… We wish peace… But we know there are some limitations on judicial power.” The remarks came after Gonsalves told the bench that some political leaders were going around making provocative speeches. He urged the court to list it for urgent hearing, claiming that about 10 people were dying on an average everyday in Delhi because of the communal violence.
Speaking on the pressure on the courts, the CJI said “it’s as if the court is responsible”. Gonsalves said no one was blaming the courts.
The CJI then said “we also read newspapers… we are responding to the kind of comments”.
Pointing out that the Delhi High Court was seized of the matter, the bench wondered how it could entertain a similar plea without the HC passing some order on the matter before it. “In the absence of an order, what can we do,” the CJI asked.
Gonsalves said the HC had adjourned the matter for four weeks which was a “little disappointing for us”.
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On February 27, the HC bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar granted the Centre four weeks to file a counter-affidavit to the plea by activists Harsh Mander and Farah Naqvi on registration of FIRs against BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Sahib Singh and Abhay Verma and others over their hate speeches.
A day prior to that, a \HC bench headed by Justice S Muralidhar had directed Delhi Police to register FIRs against the four BJP leaders and others within 24 hours. That same day, the government notified the transfer of Justice Muralidhar to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The Delhi Police and the Centre told the High Court on February 27 that the “prevailing situation” was not “conducive” to lodge the FIRs.
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