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Delhi violence: police ‘see’ speeches, thanks to high court

What’s the appropriate time, Mr Mehta? The city is burning: Court to solicitor-general

By Our bureau and PTI in New Delhi
  • Published 27.02.20, 2:27 AM
  • Updated 27.02.20, 2:27 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Delhi High Court (Picture source: delhihighcourt.nic.in)

Delhi High Court on Wednesday expressed “anguish” at the delay in filing of FIRs against hate speeches by BJP leaders, asking solicitor-general Tushar Mehta: “What’s the appropriate time, Mr Mehta? The city is burning.”

The bench of Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice Talwant Singh asked the government to take a decision by Thursday on filing the FIRs.

Mehta, appearing for the police commissioner in a petition by activist Harsh Mander seeking an independent inquiry into the violence in northeast Delhi, had said the FIRs would be filed at an “appropriate time”.

“How many lives have to be lost? How many homes have to be burnt before you register a case?” Justice Muralidhar asked.

“When will you file, after the city has burnt down?”

On Wednesday night, the Centre notified Justice Muralidhar’s transfer to Punjab and Haryana High Court. When the transfer decision was announced last week, the Delhi High Court Bar Association had protested and appealed to the collegium to reverse it.

In court, the bench said that its “anguish” was that it could not remain “blind” to what was happening and that it could not allow a repeat of the 1984 riots.

Mehta argued that the FIR matter was not urgent and asked for the Centre to be made a party to the case.

The bench responded: “There are videos that hundreds of people have watched. Do you still think it’s not an urgent matter?”

The solicitor general said he had not seen the videos.

Justice Muralidhar asked a senior police officer present in court whether he had. The officer replied that he had not seen the one in which BJP leader Kapil Mishra, with a DCP standing by his side, issued an ultimatum to Delhi police on Sunday to get the Jaffrabad anti-CAA sit-in site cleared in three days.

“Are you serious?” Justice Muralidhar asked.

He then ordered the clips of the speeches of Mishra and colleagues Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma and Abhay Verma to be played in court.

The court also passed the following directions:

  • Safe passage for the dead and assurance that their burial takes places with utmost dignity in consultation with the relatives.
  • Setting up of helplines and helpdesks. Officials at the district legal services authorities to ensure the helplines work 24x7 at least for two weeks.
  • Police to ensure safe passage to ambulances and requisition sufficient private ambulances
  • Govt should ensure there are adequate shelters, with basic amenities, including blankets, medicines, sanitation and clean drinking water.