‘Nothing objectionable in Harsh Mander’s speech’: Counsel tells Supreme Court

The court is hearing a contempt plea against the activist for allegedly making ‘derogatory remarks’ against the apex court.

WrittenBy:Anusuya Som
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The Supreme Court today told Harsh Mander to respond to a plea seeking contempt proceedings against him, and scheduled the next hearing on April 15 .

In an affidavit filed on Wednesday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Delhi police, had accused the former bureaucrat of making “derogatory remarks” against the apex court and demanding that he be held in contempt. He cited as evidence a video showing Mander purportedly saying, at a protest against the citizenship law, that he has no faith in the Supreme Court and that “real justice will be done on the streets”.

Subsequently, the Delhi police filed an affidavit accusing Mander of “instigating violence via a speech”.

In response, Chief Justice of India SA Bobde had refused to hear Mander’s petition, asking for FIRs to be filed against BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma for making hate speeches in the days before communal violence broke out in Delhi last week.

“You made statements against the Supreme Court. We will not hear you now,” Bobde had told Mander’s counsel Karuna Nundy. “If this is what Harsh Mander feels about the Supreme Court, then we will have to decide on that first.”

At today’s hearing, Mehta submitted another speech of Mander which he claimed is contemptuous of the apex court. The court directed him to provide a copy to Mander’s counsel.

Rejecting Mehta’s claims about Mander’s speech submitted to the court on Wednesday, Dushyant Dave, who is also representing the activist, said he had watched the speech and found nothing objectionable in it. He accused Mehta of presenting the speech in a manner that made it look objectionable. “It is neither contemptuous nor instigating nor disparaging,” he insisted.

Dave said he was concerned that the government was shooting the messenger – a reference to Mander – instead of acting against the politicians whose speeches actually caused the violence in Delhi.

Then, Rajeev Dhawan rose to speak. “Who are you appearing for?” Bobde asked him. “We’re all on the same side,” the senior advocate replied, pointing towards Nundy and Dave.

Dhawan argued that it was rare for the court to take up a contempt case suo moto. The CJI replied that no legal notice of contempt had yet been issued.

Soon, Mehta and Dave got into an argument, upsetting the CJI. “I do not like this behaviour, the court does not like to be interrupted,” Bobde said. “We have not been able to complete a single sentence.”

The CJI then listed the matter for hearing on April 15.

Before the court rose, Dave asked Mehta to also file an affidavit against people who made the hate speeches that resulted in the killing of over 50 people in the Delhi violence.


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