The Delhi High Court on Monday, 13 July, directed the central government to file responses to all the petitions filed regarding the Delhi riots within the next two days so that they can be taken up for final hearing.
This includes the petition by social activist and former IAS officer Harsh Mander, in which he had asked for FIRs to be registered against the politicians who had instigated the riots, including BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Parvesh Verma and Anurag Thakur, for their inflammatory speeches.
Several petitioners informed the bench, headed by Delhi HC Chief Justice DN Patel, that the Centre had not responded to their petitions, even after four months and therefore the hearing in the case could not proceed as scheduled for Monday.
The standing counsel for the Centre, Amit Mahajan, informed the court that replies to several petitions had been filed in the morning. Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for one of the petitioners, noted that the reply provided by the government at such short notice was "voluminous" and they would need time to reply to it.
Chief Justice Patel remarked that he did not want the cases split up, and therefore directed Mahajan to ensure that all replies were filed within the next two days.
The petitioners have been given four days to file their rejoinders to the government reply. The case will now be heard next on 21 July.
Publication of List of All Those Arrested in Connection With Violence
A key issue which came up during the hearing was the publication of a list of all those arrested in connection with the violence, which rocked northeast Delhi in late February, with over 50 people killed, and many homes, shops and places of worship destroyed or damaged.
Several petitioners argued that the names were not being made public by the Delhi Police, which made it difficult to offer them legal representation.
This, they argue, is a violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure. One of the petitioners, who had asked for directions for the names to be made public, noted that the information had only been provided to the court in a sealed cover.
The issue of the registration of FIRs against BJP leaders was also raised in the court, with an argument raised that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said the videos of their speeches would be analysed to decide whether or not action needed to be taken by the Delhi Police.
The Centre denied that such an assurance had been made.
It should be noted that while a bench headed by former Delhi High Court Justice S Muralidhar had directed the Centre to make a decision on these FIRs against the BJP leaders on 26 February, when the matter was transferred back to Chief Justice Patel's bench, the direction was withdrawn. Justice Muralidhar's impending transfer to the Punjab and Haryana High Court was finalised on the day he passed that order.
(With inputs from Live Law and Bar and Bench)
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