‘No chargesheet, 5 months to file FIR’: SC questions Delhi Police for slow progress in hate speech case

In October last year, a Supreme Court had directed the police to immediately lodge cases against hate speech makers without waiting for a complaint to be filed. | TCN Photo

The Hindutva event where hate speech against Muslims was made took place on December 19, 2021, in New Delhi, and an FIR was registered nearly five months later on May 4, 2022. 

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NEW DELHI — Delhi Police has made “no palpable progress” in its investigation of hate speech made at a Hindutva event under the leadership of Sudarshan News TV editor Suresh Chavhanke in the national capital New Delhi in 2021, the Supreme Court observed on Friday, the LiveLaw reported.

Suresh Chavhanke, the editor-in-chief of the television channel Sudarshan News, at an event organised by the Hindu Yuva Vahini on December 19, 2021, had administered an oath to a group of people to “die for and kill” to make India a “Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation).” 

Nearly five months later on May 4, 2022, the first information report in the case was filed after police examined the footage. The police had earlier claimed that no anti-Muslim hate speech was made at the religious conclave. 

On Friday, a division bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha directed the investigating officer to file an affidavit detailing steps taken in the inquiry within two weeks.

The bench was hearing a contempt petition filed by activist Tushar Gandhi against senior police officials for not taking action according to the guidelines laid down to curb hate speech and lynching.

The chief justice questioned Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, representing the Delhi Police, about the delay in filing the FIR.

“What are you doing in terms of the investigation? The incident takes place on the 19th of December 2021. The FIR is registered 5 months later in May 2022. Why do you require 5 months to register an FIR?”, CJI Chandrachud asked the ASG.  

Chandrachud added that “after the 4th of May, it has been eight months.” “What progress has been made? If you register an FIR five months later, and eight months after that there is no substantial progress…You tell us.”

In response, the ASG said that the delay was not deliberate and that the police was doing the verification.

Advocate Shadan Farasat, representing Gandhi, submitted that it is a “very serious matter” and requested the bench to read the transcripts of the speeches made at the event, where statements against the Muslim community were allegedly made. 

“It is a call for action for violence of a certain kind. This is not just one person, one person is leading and everybody is taking an oath behind him”, Farasat submitted.

“They have not arrested anyone, no chargesheet has been filed,” Advocate Shadan Farasat told the judges.

In an affidavit filed on April 14 last year, the Delhi Police had told the Supreme Court that no anti-Muslim speech had been made at the Hindu Yuva Vahini event. However, the court had directed the Delhi Police to file a “better affidavit”.

Between December 17 and December 19 in 2021, during a “dharam sansad (religious parliament) in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, Hindutva seers called for violence against Muslims.

“Just like Myanmar, the police, the army and every Hindu must pick up arms and organise a cleansing [of Muslims],” one of the organisers, Swami Prabodhanand from the Hindu Raksha Sena, had said. 

On November 11 last year, the Supreme Court bench discharged the Uttarakhand government and the police chief from a list of parties in the contempt plea, PTI reported.

In October last year, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy had directed the police to immediately lodge cases against hate speech makers without waiting for a complaint to be filed.

“The Constitution envisages Bharat as a secular nation, and fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and unity and the integrity of the country is the guiding principle enshrined in the Preamble,” the bench had said, adding, “We feel that this court is charged with the duty to protect these fundamental rights and also protect and preserve the constitutional values and the secular, democratic character of the nation and in particular the rule of law.”