The Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued fresh notices to several political leaders – including the Congress’ Rahul Gandhi and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Anurag Singh Thakur – seeking their response to petitions seeking action against them for alleged hate speeches before the 2020 riots, The Indian Express reported.
Communal violence had broken out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing the law in North East Delhi between February 23 and February 26, 2020. The violence claimed 53 lives and hundreds were injured. The majority of those killed were Muslims.
The court had earlier issued notices to them on February 28.
A division bench comprising Justices Siddharth Mridul and Rajnish Bhatnagar on Tuesday said that the notices issued earlier could not be served on the respondents, either because the lawyers had not filed process fees or had not mentioned the correct addresses, according to Bar and Bench.
The High Court is hearing two petitions seeking the registration of first information reports against political leaders for alleged hate speeches. One of the petitions has been filed by an organisation named Lawyers Voice, while the other has been filed by a man named Shaikh Mujtaba Farooq.
Lawyers Voice has demanded cases against the Congress’ Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, Aam Aadmi Party leaders Manish Sisodia and Amanatullah Khan, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi, activists Harsh Mander and Umar Khalid and former Bombay High Court judge BG Kolse Patil, among others.
Farooq has sought cases against Thakur and BJP leaders Kapil Mishra and Parvesh Verma.
At Tuesday’s hearing, the court observed that the lawyers for the petitioners were not showing any urgency in the case. It said that the petition by Lawyers Voice had not given the correct addresses of at least nine persons, including those of Khalid and Patil.
“One of the persons made party in your application is a retired judge,” the bench told Satya Ranjan Swain, the counsel appearing for Lawyers Voice. “He is a retired judge and you can’t find his address?”
The court gave the organisation two days to provide their correct addresses and said that if it did not do so, it would have to delete their names from the application.
The bench also asked the lawyer for Farooq why the process fee had not yet been paid. “This is the matter where the Supreme Court has, on your insistence, asked us to dispose of the matter quickly yet you have not filed a process fee,” Justice Mridul said, according to Bar and Bench. “How are we going to do it?”
The court gave Farooq two days to file the process fees. The case will be taken up again on April 29.
Statements of BJP leaders
On February 23, 2020, Mishra had amassed a crowd and gave an ultimatum to the police to clear streets of protesters who were demonstrating against the Citizenship Act amendments in Jafrabad
In the presence of a senior police officer, the BJP leader had demanded that the police evict the protestors and threatened violence in case they failed to do so within three days.
At a rally in January 2020, Thakur was heard shouting “desh ke gaddaron ko” and the crowd responded with “goli maaro saalon ko”. The slogan meant “shoot the traitors”, with an expletive used for “traitors” being a reference to those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act.