The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a petition that sought immediate registration of FIRs against political leaders for inflammatory speeches and slogans but underscored that courts could not prevent such things and came into a picture only after an event had taken place.
“We read newspapers blaming us. There is so much pressure on us…. But we cannot prevent such things”, Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde observed after hearing lawyer Colin Gonsalves.
“We don’t want people to die… We want peace. But the court has never been able to curb such violence,” Chief Justice Bobde said. The bench agreed to take up the petition on Wednesday.
Colin Gonsalves had mentioned the petition before a bench led by the Chief Justice of India to request an early hearing into the petition.
Gonsalves had underlined that the FIRs should be registered immediately since nearly 10 people were dying every day.
“Last night 6 or 7 people died,” he told the bench.
The urgency is that 5 or 6 personalities are going around encouraging it,” Gonsalves said.
A bench of the Delhi High Court led by Chief Justice DN Patel and justice C Hari Shankar had last week given the police four weeks to respond to petitioned that hate speeches by some political leaders had incited the protestors, leading to the riots in the national capital. Forty-six people died in the riots and over 300 were injured.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear the request at an early date but underlined that courts could not prevent such riots.
“We will hear it. But you must understand we are not equipped to prevent such things from happening. We can only come into the scene after such riots have happened… Court can never prevent such things”, CJI Bobde said.
On Harsh Mander’s petition in the high court, a bench of justices S Muralidhar and Talwant Singh had initially come down hard on the police asking them to review all the video tapes of hate speeches and report back to the court within 24 hours with its decision on registration of cases.
Orders to transfer Justice S Muralidhar were issued before this 24-hour deadline ended.
The next day, a bench led by Chief Justice Patel of the high court gave the police four weeks after Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta repeated that the atmosphere was “not conducive” to file cases at the moment. Mehta had taken a similar stand when the case was heard by Justice Muralidhar’s bench but it had criticised the police for inaction, asked them to do a review, take a decision, and reply the next day.