The Supreme Court has given the Delhi High Court three months to decide on a plea seeking a FIR against four BJP leaders, including Union Minister Anurag Thakur, over alleged hate speeches and comments that incited the 2020 Delhi riots.
The plea - by three victims of the violence that engulfed Delhi last year - sought registration of a FIR and an investigation by a special investigation team (SIT) against the BJP's Kapil Mishra, Parvesh Verma and Abhay Verma, as well as Sports Minister Anurag Thakur.
A two-member bench of the top court - Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice BR Gavai - has asked the Delhi High Court to hear the matter expeditiously, "preferably within three months".
This was after the riot victims said the High Court was "delaying proceedings".
The petitioners also sought the constitution of an independent SIT - with officers from outside Delhi - to investigate cases connected to the violence in the national capital.
"Petitioners are losing hope. What justice for Jamia students? What justice for Delhi riots victims? Students were brutally beaten... heads cracked," senior advocate Colin Gonsalves said.
"The High Court is delaying proceedings despite earlier direction by the Supreme Court (in March last year) to the High Court to decide matters in a time-bound manner," he said.
To this the court said it was "not inclined to entertain this writ petition", but also said: "We request the High Court to decide the petition expeditiously... preferably within three months."
On March 4 last year too, the Supreme Court had asked the Delhi High Court to decide on the matter "as expeditiously as possible". The court said the "long adjournment was not justified".
Mr Gonsalves told the top court today the High Court had then said the matter would be heard after petitions seeking a probe into alleged police atrocities on the Jamia Milia Islamia campus.
"However, even the Jamia matter is not progressing..." Mr Gonsalves submitted.
In February last year the Delhi High Court told Delhi Police there should be no delay in registering FIRs over alleged hate speeches. The court said this after watching videos of speeches by Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, and the others during a hearing seeking FIRs.
"Why shouldn't there be an FIR against these four... including Union Minister, MP and MLA? You showed alacrity in registering FIRs for damages to property and arson. Why aren't you registering it for these speeches? Don't you even want to acknowledge the presence of a crime?" Justice S Muralidhar, who was shortly after transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, had said.
Hours before violence broke out Mr Mishra was caught on video giving police an ultimatum - clear protesters from the city's Jaffrabad and Chandbagh neighbourhoods or face consequences.
Mr Thakur was caught on video urging people to "goli maaro traitors" shortly before gunmen opened fire on protesters. Abhay Verma, a BJP MLA, and Parvesh Verma, a BJP MP, made similar speeches.
Violence broke out in the northeastern parts of Delhi in February 2020 after tension between supporters of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act and those protesting against it. Over 50 people died and around 200 were injured in the violence that followed.