- Harsh Mander's plea not be heard until his judiciary remark is sorted out
- The Solicitor General called the activist's speech derogatory
- The matter will be heard next on Friday by the Delhi High Court
The appeal of activist Harsh Mander in the case involving hate speech by BJP leaders will not be heard unless the matter of his alleged comments against the judiciary is sorted, the Supreme Court said today. Along with the victims of last week's Delhi violence, Harsh Mander has also filed a petition seeking action against BJP leaders for their hate speech in the run-up to the Delhi assembly elections. There have been allegations that the hate speech had a role to play in the sudden violence that engulfed parts of Delhi last week, in which 48 people were killed and more than 200 injured.
"You made statements against the Supreme Court. We will not hear you now... If this is what Harsh Mander feels about the Supreme Court, then we will have to decide on that first," Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said, referring to Mr Mander's speech during an anti-CAA protest in January, where he allegedly made derogatory comments against the top court.
Appearing for the government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had objected to the petition filed by Mr Mander. "Harsh Mander's speech says 'we have no faith in the Supreme Court and still we have to go. "This is the speech at CAA protests," he said.
The video in question shows Harsh Mander's speech to students at Jamia Millia Islamia on December 16. In it, Harsh Mander is heard saying: "This is a fight for the soul of our Constitution - which is love and fraternity. This battle can't be won in parliament, because the parties which call themselves secular have no moral courage left to fight. This battle can't be won in the Supreme Court, because we have seen that over some time, in the cases of NRC, Kashmir and Ayodhya, the Supreme Court did not protect humanity, equality and secularism. We will try (to fight) there as well, because it is our Supreme Court. But the matter cannot be resolved in parliament or the Supreme Court. The decision on what kind of future you wish to give your children -- that decision can be taken on the streets, and, where else -- in our hearts. If we respond to hatred with hatred, it will only increase hatred. If someone is spreading darkness, we have to light a lamp."
Dubbing the activist's speech "derogatory and instigating", the Solicitor General also pointed out that in the past, former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had struck off Harsh Mander's name as a petitioner in a case involving Assam detention centres.
At the time, the activist had asked for a change of bench. "Learn to trust your judges," Ranjan Gogoi had said, accusing Harsh Mander of "damaging the institution" and dismissing his plea.
Today, when Mr Mander's lawyer denied that he made any derogatory speech against the top court, Chief Justice Bobde asked for a transcript of the speech and allowed the activist to provide an explanation. The matter will be heard next on Friday by the Delhi High Court.
Harsh Mander, Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, historian Irfan Habib, economist Prabhat Patnaik and some organisations have also approached the Supreme Court, challenging the constitutional validity of Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 and sought direction to strike it down.