HC not justified in adjourning Delhi violence matter for long, says SC
New Delhi, Mar 4: The Supreme Court said on Wednesday that long adjournment given by Delhi High Court in the matters related to recent violence in the national capital was “not justified”.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, which observed that it was not questioning the high court for adjourning the Delhi riots matters for April 13, asked the high court to hear these petitions on March 6.
“We are not on the merits. We think adjournment by the high court for such a long period was not necessary and was not justified,” said the bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant.
“As a matter of judicial discipline, we do not want to assume the jurisdiction of the high court as it is seized of the matter,” the bench said and made it clear it does not intend to say that high court was not justified in adjourning the case.
During the high-voltage arguments, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for 10 riot victims who have sought registration of FIRs against some BJP leaders and others for their alleged hate speeches, said that violence could have been avoided if the police had taken timely action against these politicians.
To this, the CJI said: “We also have some experience of riots. What we are trying to say is that your statement is not absolutely true. Sometimes, if you catch the leaders, it backfires.
“Your statement is that when leaders are arrested, the riot stops. It is not true. You know what had happened during the Bombay riots. When a ‘shakha pramukh’ was arrested, it flared up. Bombay riots were much worse than this (Delhi riots).”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and Delhi Police, told the bench that petitioners were misusing the forum of court and were using these alleged hate speeches selectively.
Mehta told the bench that Gonsalves has appeared for Mander before the high court last week in the violence matter and now the senior counsel was representing the riot victims before the apex court.
“After making such speeches, Mander knows he will get into trouble. That is why he got this petition filed on behalf of the victims,” Mehta said, adding, “The clients of Gonsalves are also sponsored and instigated by Mander”.
The CJI then said, “What purpose is this serving? You are just making fun of each other in the court. Is this what the courts are being used for?”
The bench also said that both the sides should make a conscious effort so that peace could prevail instead of making a “mockery of each other” in the court.
During the arguments, Mehta opposed the suggestion of the bench to prepone the hearing before the high court for March 6 and said the “there is no violence now”.
“It would be too naive for us to accept that because of two-three persons, the riots took place”, Mehta told the bench, adding, “The administration knows what is going on on the ground”.
Mehta said that authorities have been examining around 7,000 videos and he had argued before the high court that “right now it is not the time to register FIRs”.
The bench observed, “We are not saying that the high court had no reasons to adjourn the matter”.
The bench said when Gonsalves had mentioned the matter before it for urgent listing on March 2, it had said that violence does not stop by proceedings in the court.
“In a situation of riot, there are no specific person against whom we can pass injunction. Injunction can be against specific persons only,” the bench said.
The bench then told Mehta, “We are saying that just because there is no violence, should these matters be adjourned to this extent?”.
During the hearing, Gonsalves said that high court had also adjourned the Jamia violence case to April despite the fact that the petitions were referred to it by the apex court.
“Do not compel me to say something. When that (Jamia) matter was heard by the high court, some 50-60 persons shouted slogans of shame shame before the chief justice of high court,” Mehta said, adding, “A mayhem was created in the courtroom. There was hooliganism there”.
To this, the bench observed, “We do not know why all this is tolerated”.
When the bench said it would request the high court to take up the matter on March 6, Mehta said he should be given time at least till March 9 to file affidavit before the high court.
When Mehta said the petitioners would put “pressure” on the high court to hear the matter on March 6 itself, the bench said, “Let them put pressure.”
During the hearing, the bench also said it understands the situation but the FIRs have to be registered in a fair manner.
“We are conscious of the fact that registration of FIR does not prejudice anybody’s right,” the bench said.