Jantar Mantar: Court pulls up Delhi Police for not questioning reporter ‘trying to incite people’
A Delhi court took note of a video from a YouTube news channel where a reporter was asking ‘leading questions’ about the event.
A Delhi court on Wednesday questioned the police for not interrogating a reporter of a YouTube news channel in relation to an event where inflammatory slogans calling for violence against Muslims were shouted at a rally in Jantar Mantar on August 8, The Indian Express reported.
Additional Sessions Judge Anil Antil noted that in videos of the event, a reporter of the YouTube news channel Khabar India could be seen inciting people.
The court was hearing an anticipatory bail plea moved by one of the accused in the case, Pinky Chaudhary. The investigating officer of the case had submitted a transcript of an 11-minute video from Khabar India as evidence against Chaudhary, who has been booked on charges of hate speech.
However, the court asked the police if they had questioned the reporter in the video.
“Have you served notice to the reporter?” Antil asked. “He is seen deliberately putting up leading questions to incite them and agitate him and say something...He must have been the first person to be called.”
Meanwhile, Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, appearing for Chaudhary argued that a case of hate speech cannot be made out based on the content of the video. He contended that one cannot be booked for hate speech unless they incite violence.
“My intention was not violence…” Jain submitted. “I may have an extreme view, I may have a different view. If I am involved in vilification and inciting violence, then only I will come under the purview [of hate speech].”
Additional Public Prosecutor SK Kain opposed the bail plea arguing that Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, under which Chaudhary has been booked, mentions that promoting enmity between two religions amounts to hate speech.
“Two groups of people are being incited by the accused...This is against the country,” Kain told the court, according to The Indian Express.
The court reserved its order on the bail plea and extended Chaudhary’s interim protection from arrest till August 21, Live Law reported.
Jantar Mantar hate slogans incident
The event on August 8 was organised by former Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Ashwini Upadhyay as part of an effort he called the “Bharat Jodo [Unite India] movement”. It ostensibly aimed to urge the authorities to put an end to “colonial-era laws” by establishing a uniform civil code.
However, videos from the event, which took place less than 2 km from Parliament, showed a group of people shouting slogans such as: “Jab mulle kaate jayenge, Ram-Ram chillayenge [Muslims will chant Ram-Ram when they are slaughtered].”
Upadhayay was arrested on August 10 along with Deepak Singh, Vinod Sharma, Vineet Bajpai, Preet Singh and Deepak Kumar. They were charged with promoting religious enmity and violating Covid-19 protocols.
Upadhayay was granted bail a day later, despite the Delhi Police saying he was a speaker at the event.
However, three others – Deepak Singh, Preet Singh and Vinod Sharma – were denied bail by a metropolitan magistrate court on August 13.