In a U-turn, the Delhi Police has informed the Supreme Court that after analysing videos and links on social media on hate speech at a Dharam Sansad here, it has registered an FIR for promoting enmity between groups. The Delhi Police had earlier told the top court that “no specific words against any community were uttered” at the event organised here by the Hindu Yuva Vahini on December 19 last year.
The fresh affidavit of the Delhi Police said, It is submitted that all the links given in the complaint and other material available in public domain were analysed. One video containing audio and video recording of the above said programme was found uploaded on YouTube channel. After further minute verification of the materials, FIR has been registered on May 4 at police station Okhla Industrial Area, South East (Delhi) District for the offences of section 153A, 295A, 298 and 34 of Indian Penal Code.” It further said that investigation will be carried out in accordance with the law. On April 22, the top court had expressed its displeasure over a Delhi Police affidavit which had said that “no hate speech was made” during the event and directed it to file a “better affidavit”.
“The affidavit has been filed by the Deputy Commissioner of Police. We hope he has understood the nuances. Has he merely reproduced the inquiry report or applied mind? Is it your stand as well or the reproduction of the inquiry report of the sub-inspector-level officer?” a bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar had said. The top court had asked can such a stand be taken on an affidavit before the court and wanted to know who verified the affidavit and if the Delhi Police was accepting it as a correct finding.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) K M Nataraj, appearing for the Delhi Police, had said that they would have a “re-look” of the matter and file a fresh affidavit. The top court was hearing a petition filed by journalist Qurban Ali and former Patna High Court judge and senior advocate Anjana Prakash, who has also sought a direction for an “independent, credible and impartial investigation” by an SIT into incidents of hate speeches against the Muslim community.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioners, had drawn the attention of the bench during the hearing towards extracts of the speech and the enquiry report of the sub-inspector of the Okhla Industrial Area police station. The top court had then asked the law officer if any senior officer had verified the affidavit.
It had asked the ASG if the Delhi Police was accepting it as a correct finding. “This is the reproduction of the inquiry report prepared by a sub-inspector level officer or is it your stand? If it is so, then we have to ask the Commissioner of Police to look into it if this is your stand also?” the top court had said.
Nataraj had said they will have a re-look of the matter and file a fresh affidavit. In a counter-affidavit filed in the apex court, the Delhi Police had said the petitioners had not approached them for taking any action in connection with the alleged incident and have directly moved the top court and such a practice must be deprecated.
In its affidavit, the Delhi Police had said that on the same subject matter, some complaints were lodged alleging that hate speech was made at an event organised here by the Hindu Yuva Vahini on December 19 last year and all those complaints were consolidated and an inquiry was initiated. It had said after a deep enquiry was conducted and the contents of the video were evaluated, the police did not find any substance in the video as per the allegation levelled by the complainants.
It had said the police, after carrying out a preliminary inquiry on the complaints and after examining the video link and attached video in respect of the alleged hate speech delivered at Delhi, found that no such words as mentioned by the complainant in his complaint have been used. It had said “no hate” was expressed in the event in Delhi against any group, community, ethnicity, religion, or faith, and that the speech was about empowering one’s religion to prepare itself to face the evils which could endanger its existence, which is not even remotely connected to a call for genocide of any particular religion.
The apex court had earlier asked the Uttarakhand government to file a status report after it said that four FIRs have been registered in connection with the alleged hate speeches made in December last year during an event in Haridwar. It had on January 12 issued notice on the plea which sought direction to ensure investigation and action against those who allegedly made hate speeches during the two events held in Haridwar and the national capital.
The plea, which specifically referred to the “hate speeches” delivered between the “17th and 19th of December 2021 at Haridwar and Delhi”, has also sought compliance with the apex court’s guidelines to deal with such speeches. One event was organised in Haridwar by Yati Narsinghanand and the other in Delhi by the Hindu Yuva Vahini allegedly “calling for the genocide of members” of a community, it has said.
The Uttarakhand Police filed an FIR on December 23 last against some persons, including Sant Dharamdas Maharaj, Sadhvi Annapoorna alias Pooja Shakun Pandey, Yati Narsinghanand, and Sagar Sindhu Maharaj.