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Nothing untoward should happen at Dharam Sansad: SC warns Uttarakhand ahead of Roorkee meet today

The apex court sought an affidavit on the measures taken in this regard from the state’s chief secretary

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: April 27, 2022 8:28:45 am
SC dharam sansad, dharam sansad event roorkie, Uttarakhand govt, SC Uttarakhand govt, Hate speech dharam sansad, Indian expressAnother 'dharam sansad’ is proposed to be held in Himachal Pradesh on Sunday. (Photo: Twitter/Screenshot)

ASKING WHAT “preventive” and “corrective” steps had been taken with regard to a proposed “dharam sansad” in Roorkee on Wednesday, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Uttarakhand Chief Secretary to place on record the state’s position that there will not be any “untoward situation” or “unacceptable statements”.

“We will hold the Secretary (Home), Chief Secretary and the IG concerned responsible if something untoward happens despite your assurance. We are putting it on record now… You know what are the preventive measures to be taken. Don’t make us say again and again,” a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Abhay S Oka and C T Ravikumar told Uttarakhand Deputy Advocate General Jatinder Kumar Sethi.

The bench was hearing a plea seeking action against a dharam sansad held in Una (Himachal Pradesh) on April 17-19, when Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioners, informed that a similar event was scheduled to be held in Roorkee on Wednesday.

“Counsel for the state of Uttarakhand submits that all preventive measures have been taken as exposited in the decisions of this court… and the concerned authorities are more than confident that no untoward situation or unacceptable statements are made during such event. And whatever is necessary in terms of the decisions of this court, all such steps will be taken by the concerned authority. We direct the Chief Secretary, Uttarakhand, to place the above position on record and also to state about the corrective measures taken by the concerned authorities as and when required before the next date of hearing,” the bench said in its order.

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The court pointed out that despite its “repeated pronouncements” on the issue and “precautionary” and “corrective” measures to be taken, “things are happening” on the ground.

During the hearing, as Sethi sought to explain what had been done by the state, Justice Khanwilkar said: “Don’t explain it to us. You only have to take action as per the guidelines already in place”. The court told the state that “if the announcement has been made, you have to take action”.

Sethi submitted that FIRs had been filed in an earlier case. But the bench pointed out that it was asking about preventive measures. “FIRs will be only after the incident, not before,” said Justice Khanwilkar.

“As regards preventive (measures), there is a difficulty. A person says I will hold a dharam sansad. We do not know what is the text of what he will be saying,” said Sethi.

“If the speaker is going to be the same, you have to take immediate action… Please understand. Don’t make us say something. There are other ways of preventive action. You know how to do it,” said Justice Khanwilkar.

Sethi submitted that the state was trying to persuade the organisers not to hold the event. “We are aware of our responsibilities… The event…may not even occur because of the steps we are taking,” he said.

The court asked Sethi what level of the administration he was taking instructions from, and told him that it would record his assurance promising action. “Otherwise we should hold whom responsible? …Talk to the Secretary, talk to the IG of the concerned area. And then make that person understand,” the bench told him.

Sethi said the petitioner’s counsel should have some faith in him.

“There is no problem about trust. The doctrine of trust applies all across and 24X7. But what we see is something different on the ground… And despite the repeated pronouncements of this court, 2018 judgement we pointed out, there is subsequent judgement enlarging these, precautionary measures to be taken and corrective measures to be taken, yet things are happening,” said Justice Khanwilkar.

The state counsel contended that “there is a colour which is being addressed to a particular community regarding these dharam sansads”. As Sibal objected, Sethi said he was saying so “because the particular community you are trying to protect is also doing this. We are trying to calm down things so that harmony prevails”.

Making clear the court’s displeasure with the submission, Justice Khanwilkar told the state counsel: “Perhaps we need to impress upon you, this is not the way you address such matters.”

“We are taking steps. And I must assure your Lordships we will take all the steps to stop these things from happening. Rest assured, regarding this dharam sansad also, we are taking steps to see this is not held. And if at all it is held, we will monitor it,” responded Sethi.

“We don’t want your assurance. If something happens, we will ask Chief Secretary to remain present. This is not how you handle matters like this,” Justice Khanwilkar said.

On the Una event, the counsel for Himachal Pradesh said: “Necessary preventive measures were already taken. And after the event, corrective steps as required in terms of the decision of” the SC “have also been taken by the concerned authorities”.

“You only have to only follow the guidelines already in place. Are you following it or not, that is what you have to answer us… And in spite of it, if it is happening, you have to take corrective measures,” said the bench.

The state said it had taken preventive measures and carried out an investigation when similar incidents happened in the past. “No, not only investigation. You have to stop this activity,” said the court.

“These events do not occur suddenly, overnight. They are announced well in advance. Your local police must go into action immediately to ensure that nothing untoward happens. And whether those steps have been taken, you explain that… You also explain the next course taken by you after the incident… Did you immediately react to the situation or not,” the court said.

Fixing the next hearing for May 9, the court asked the Himachal Pradesh Home Secretary to file an affidavit explaining the actions taken.

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