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[BREAKING] Supreme Court to hear plea seeking probe against Haridwar Dharam Sansad hate speeches tomorrow

The matter will be heard by the three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli on Wednesday as the first item at 10:30 AM.

The plea has been filed by former Patna High Court judge, Justice Anjana Prakash, seeking directions for an independent, impartial and credible probe into the matter by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).

Earlier, on Monday (January 10), the Supreme Court had agreed to hear the plea when the matter was mentioned before Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana by Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal who said that the Supreme Court needs to take cognisance of the matter.

The plea, filed through Advocate Sumita Hazarika, said that the speeches made at the sansad “pose a grave threat not just to the unity and integrity of our country but also endanger the lives of millions of Muslim citizens.

The plea highlighted how a video had gone viral in which a police was officer was seen acknowledging his allegiance to the offenders.

This not only allows “delivery of hate speeches with impunity but also shows that the Police authorities are in fact hand in glove with the perpetrators of communal hate,” the petition stated.

It mentioned the constitutional duty of care held by several top court decisions in this regard.

The plea highlighted how a video had gone viral in which a police was officer was seen acknowledging his allegiance to the offenders.

This not only allows “delivery of hate speeches with impunity but also shows that the Police authorities are in fact hand in glove with the perpetrators of communal hate,” the petition stated.

It mentioned the constitutional duty of care held by several top court decisions in this regard.

The proclamations made at the events are widely available on the internet and qualify as both extreme hate speech and also as ‘violent speech inciting targeted killings of Muslim citizens’, which would pass the ‘spark in a powder keg’ test in Ragarajan v. P. Jagjeevan Ram and Ors. (1989) 2 SCC 574, and in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India (2015) 5 SCC 1, it was contended.

The petition further stated that such hate speeches “feed into an already prevailing discourse which seeks to reimagine the Indian Republic as exclusivist,” which is in itself “violative of constitutional guarantees“.

The plea also highlighted how open calls for genocide are in direct violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide to which India is a signatory.

The petition, therefore, raised the following substantial questions of law to be considered by the Supreme Court:

a. WHETHER the Police authorities failed to take appropriate action in view of the seriousness of the speeches that were delivered at the event consisting of open calls for genocide of a significant section of the Indian citizenry?

b. WHETHER the ‘hate speeches’ wherein open calls for genocide of a significant section of the Indian citizenry were given have caused harm to a group and whether they are in direct violation of the constitutional guarantees provided under Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India?

c. WHETHER there is breach of a duty of care as laid down by this Hon’ble Court in the case of Tehseen Poonawalla v. Union of India [(2018) 9 SCC 501] by the Police?

d. WHETHER there is a negligence and a breach of duty of care by the Police in allowing ‘hate speeches’ to be made in full public view, such that it causes harm to a group?

Besides seeking SIT probe, the plea also sought directions to State authorities to comply with the guidelines laid down in Tehseen Poonawalla v. Union of India.

It also prayed that the top court should define the contours of ‘duty of care in investigations’ or the ‘tort of negligent investigations resulting in harm.’

Source: Barandbench

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