Activist Harsh Mander on Friday alleged in the Supreme Court that the government wants to shoot the messenger, while not acting against the real perpetrators of the Delhi violence, claiming there was nothing inflammatory in his alleged hate speeches.
The submission was made by senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, who is appearing for Mander, even as the apex court asked the activist to file his response to the allegations by Delhi Police he made hate speeches including certain objectionable remarks against the court during the protests against the Citizenship Amended Act (CAA) in New Delhi.
In a matter related to the violence, the Delhi high court listed for March 12 multiple pleas regarding the violence in northeast Delhi including the ones seeking filing of first information reports against Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma and Kapil Mishra for allegedly making hate speeches.
The violence has left 53 dead and over 200 injured.
The high court on February 27 listed all such matters for hearing on April 13, but the Supreme Court on March 4 observed that such a long adjournment 'was not necessary and was not justified'.
The apex court had asked the high court to hear on March 6 the matters related to the violence and alleged hate speeches and dispose them 'as expeditiously as possible'.
In the apex court, a bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai while dealing with the Mander hate speech case, however, made it clear it has not issued a contempt notice to the activist on the plea of the Delhi Police alleging 'derogatory remarks', making insinuations against the apex court and its judges.
The court said the plea would now be heard on April 15.
Dave alleged that the government was trying to 'brow beat' Mander and there was nothing 'objectionable' and 'contemptuous' in his speeches.
"There is nothing contemptuous, disparaging or inflammatory in his speeches," Dave said, adding, "I am concerned that the Government is willing to shoot the messenger, while not taking action against the real perpetrators."
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Delhi Police, referred to another speech of Mander and said its contents are also 'contemptuous'.
The bench then asked the top law officer to file the contents of the other speech by filing another affidavit which can be responded to by Mander as well.
The hearing was marked by heated exchanges between Dave and the law officer who opposed advancing of arguments by another senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan in favour of the activist.
"How many lawyers can argue on behalf of Mander in one case?" Mehta asked, adding he would always bring to the notice of the court if somebody makes objectionable remarks against the court and its majesty.
Dave said he would 'beseech' the law officer to file same kind of affidavits against BJP leaders for making hate speeches which were blamed for the violence.
The Solicitor General opposed the submission of Dave that he would be the first person to bring to the notice of the court if somebody makes a statement against the court and instad alleged Dave will be the 'last person' to do that.
Dave then challenged the law officer to file contempt plea against him.
The CJI intervened and was visibly irritated when he could not complete his observations on the issue.
"We will not appreciate this. We are not allowed to complete a single sentence," the bench said, making it clear that the matter will be heard after conclusion of the hearing in the Sabarimala case.
Mander had sought registration of FIRs against certain BJP leaders for allegedly delivering hate speeches and had moved the top court after the hearing initially was adjourned by the high court till April 13.