New Delhi: CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said in the Delhi High Court on Thursday that a cognisable offence should be made out against Union Minister Anurag Thakur and BJP colleague and MP, Pravesh Verma, and that an FIR be lodged against them for their alleged hate speeches in relation to the anti-CAA protest at Shaheen Bagh.
Karat has challenged a trial court’s August 26 order dismissing her plea seeking the lodging of an FIR against the two leaders on the grounds that the requisite sanction from the competent authority, the Centre, was not obtained.
Justice Yogesh Khanna, after hearing the submissions, asked the counsel for Karat and the Delhi Police to file relevant judgements in support of their contentions.
The court listed the matter for a further hearing on November 2.
Advocate Richa Kapoor, appearing for the police, questioned the maintainability of the petition.
Advocate Siddharth Aggarwal, representing Karat, said the complaint was kept pending before the trial court for nine months and thereafter, the magistrate rejected the plea and did not even go into the merits of the case.
“The proposition adopted by the magistrate is in the teeth of many judgements of the Supreme Court. The magistrate has refused to exercise the jurisdiction which the law vests on him,” he contended.
He added that a cognisable offence be made out and that they were only asking the police to investigate the matter.
CPI(M) leaders Brinda Karat and K.M. Tewari had filed the complaint before the trial court seeking a direction to the Parliament Street Police Station to register an FIR against Thakur and Verma.
However, the trial court said that the complaint was not sustainable without prior sanction.
Karat, in her petition in the high court, sought quashing of the trial court’s order and also a direction for expeditious disposal of applications under Section 156(3) of the CrPC (power of a magistrate to direct the police to conduct investigation in respect of a cognisable offence) and that technical objections and maintainability be decided at the threshold to avoid prejudice to the complainant and wastage of judicial time.
The plea, filed through advocate Tara Narula and Adit S. Pujari, said the relevant provision of CrPC demonstrates that the sanction to be taken thereunder is a sanction for taking cognisance.
“It is settled law that the stage of cognisance does not arise at a time when directions under Section 156(3) CrPC are given, and as such, no sanction is required under either Section 195 or 196 CrPC for the registration of an FIR and/or for investigation,” the plea said.
It contended that when the State and the police have pointedly excused the speeches of the accused and other persons, the petitioners submit that the only recourse available to them is judicial.
“Public policy and the interest of justice demand that this court forms a view on the content of the speeches given by the accused on the basis of settled law, and opine whether cognisable offence is made out thereupon,” it said, and sought the lodging of an FIR on the complaint.
The plea said they had filed the complaint over nine months ago and the registration of FIR is already extremely delayed despite cognisable offences being made out.
In her complaint, Karat had said that “Thakur and Verma had sought to incite people as a result of which three incidents of firing took place at two different protest sites in Delhi”.
The complaint had sought lodging of FIRs under various sections, including 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.), 153-B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) and 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the IPC.
It had also sought action under other sections of the IPC, including 298 (uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation).
The maximum punishment for the offences is a jail term for seven years.
Karat had approached the court after her written complaints to the Commissioner of Police and the SHO, Parliament Street, failed to elicit any response.
The CPI (M) leader had mentioned that at the Rithala rally here, Thakur, the minister of state for finance and corporate affairs, had on January 27 egged on the crowd to raise an incendiary slogan – “shoot the traitors” – after lashing out at anti-CAA protesters.
In the complaint, she had mentioned that Verma had on January 28 allegedly made incendiary comments against the anti-CAA protesters in Shaheen Bagh.