‘File better affidavit’, SC to Delhi Police on hate speech at Delhi meet

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The Delhi Police on Friday conceded before the Supreme Court that it needed to re-examine its affidavit saying that the speakers at a religious meet organised by Hindu Yuva Vahini on December 19, 2021, made no hate speeches against the Muslim community. The Delhi Police said it will file a “better affidavit”.

A bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said the Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj, representing the Delhi Police, submitted that a better affidavit will be filed, after taking instructions from the authorities concerned.

At the outset, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the petitioners, said the Delhi Police said an inquiry was conducted into the matter, and justified that persons gathered to save ‘ethics of the community’.

Sibal said: “Your lordships may have to decide constitutionally, what ethics are?” Justice Khanwilkar pointed out that the affidavit was filed by the Deputy Commissioner of Police and queried Nataraj, “Has any superior officer verified this?”

The bench, also comprising Justice Abhay S.Oka, said it hoped the police officer understood the nuances. Justice Khanwilkar queried, “Has he merely reproduced the inquiry report or applied his mind?… Is it your stand as well… the reproduction of the inquiry report of the sub-inspector level officer?”

Justice Khanwilkar asked Nataraj, “Do you want to have a relook at the whole matter?…Is this the stand of Commissioner of Police, Delhi?”

Nataraj said the matter will be re-examined and a better affidavit will be filed.

The top court gave Delhi Police two weeks to file an affidavit and scheduled the matter for further hearing on May 9. The bench said that the police should file a better affidavit on or before May 4.

In the affidavit, the Delhi Police said some complaints were lodged alleging that hate speech was made at the event organised here by the ‘Hindu Yuva Vahini’ on December 19 last year and all those complaints were consolidated and an inquiry was conducted.

“The findings of the inquiry after visual and audio examination of the evidence further disclose that the speech did not contain any hate words against a particular community, and persons who gathered there with a motive to save the ethics of their community,” the police said.

The Delhi Police said the speech made by Sudarshan News TV Editor Suresh Chavhanke at the meet didn’t amount to hate speech against any particular community.

The Delhi Police said in the video clip of the incident, there was no utterance against any particular section or community. “Hence, after inquiry and after evaluation of the alleged video clip, it was concluded that the alleged speech did not disclose any hate words against a particular community as alleged or otherwise,” said the counter affidavit filed by Delhi Police.

The police said, “There is no use of such words which mean or could be interpreted as ‘open calls for genocide of Muslims in order to achieve ethnic cleansing or an open call for murder of an entire community’ in the speech”.

The affidavit added, “It is pertinent to mention here that no hate was expressed in the events at Delhi against any group, community, ethnicity, religion or faith, the speech was about empowering one’s religion to prepare itself to face the evils which could endanger its existence, which is not evenly remotely connected to call for genocide of any particular religion.”

The Supreme Court was hearing a plea — filed by journalist Qurban Ali and former Patna High Court judge and senior advocate Anjana Prakash — seeking direction to ensure investigation and action against those who allegedly made hate speeches during events held in Haridwar and Delhi, last year.

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