New Delhi: The Delhi High Court will on Monday hear a batch of petitions concerning the 2020 northeast Delhi riots including those seeking FIRs against several political leaders for allegedly delivering hate speeches.

The matter will be heard by a bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh.

Apart from seeking action for the alleged hate speeches in the backdrop of the introduction of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, petitions have also sought other reliefs which include setting up of an SIT, FIRs against police officers who were allegedly involved in the violence, and disclosure of persons arrested and detained.

The police has earlier said that the investigation into the riots has not revealed any evidence till now that political leaders instigated or participated in the violence.

On July 13, the court had allowed several amendment applications seeking to implead various political leaders as parties to proceedings seeking FIR and investigation against them for allegedly delivering hate speeches leading to the violence.

The court had earlier issued notices to Anurag Thakur (BJP), Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (Congress), Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia (AAP), and others, on two impleadment applications in the matter.

One impleadment application was filed by petitioner Shaikh Mujtaba Farooq who has sought FIR for hate speech against BJP leaders Anurag Thakur, Kapil Mishra, Parvesh Verma and Abhay Verma.

The other application was by petitioner Lawyers Voice which has sought the registration of hate speech FIRs against Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as well as Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Amanatullah Khan, AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi, former AIMIM MLA Warris Pathan, Mehmood Pracha, Harsh Mander, Mufti Mohammad Ismail, Swara Bhasker, Umar Khalid, former Bombay High Court judge BG Kolse Patil and others.

In response, the Gandhis have said that preventing a citizen from expressing a bonfide opinion against any bill or law passed by Parliament is violative of “right to free speech” and “principles of democracy.

The Gandhis, in two separate affidavits, have submitted that there was no requirement to issue directions to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and the case of issuance of direction to register an FIR against Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi is not made out and no interference is called for by this court to pass any order.

“Meanwhile, a series of speeches made by the members of the ruling party, falling squarely within the ambit of the sections under which the present writ is seeking action against the respondents, have been conveniently left out by the petitioner, revealing the coloured nature of the exercise,” they have said.

Police has earlier said it has already created three special investigation teams (SITs) under the crime branch and there was no evidence till now that its officers were involved in the violence or that political leaders instigated or participated in the violence.

By Shadab

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