Chavhanke hate speech probe: SC pulls up Delhi Police again, over ‘no arrest, chargesheet’

The Supreme Court has again pulled up the Delhi Police over its probe into a hate speech case in which Sudarshan News editor Suresh Chavhanke is an accused, Live Law reported. The court noted that there has been “no arrest”, “no chargesheet” and “no palpable progress” even eight months after the FIR was lodged last year.

In April last year, the court had slammed a police affidavit clearing Chavhanke of hate speech – for administering a controversial oath at a Hindu Yuva Vahini event in Delhi in December, 2021 – paving the way for an FIR next month for promoting religious enmity.

A division bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha on Friday asked the police to file a status report within two weeks, Live Law reported. It observed that the chargesheet has still not been filed and even the FIR was lodged five months after the incident, the report stated. 

A contempt plea by activist Tushar Gandhi had alleged that the police have violated directions issued by the court in the Tehseen Poonawalla case.

Advocate Shadan Farasat, representing Gandhi, pointed to speeches made at the event targeting the Muslim community and said it was a “call for action for violence of a certain kind”. In an indirect reference to Chavhanke, he said “the gentleman who is leading this has a history”. Mentioning the Tehseen Poonawalla case, he said the FIR and chargesheet must be filed in a timely manner in such cases.

In December, 2021, Chavhanke had administered an oath at an event organised by members of the Hindu Yuva Vahini to make India a “Hindu nation”, and to fight, die and “kill if required” for the purpose. He posted the video on Twitter saying, “Lions and Lionesses of Hindu Yuva Vahini taking the oath of Hindu Rashtra with me”. In his tweet, he tagged Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath.

A few months later, the Delhi police filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in response to a PIL accusing Chavhanke of hate speech. The police claimed “nothing was said” at the Hindu Yuva Vahini event “which could create an environment of paranoia amongst any religion”. The police also declared, “We must practise tolerance to the views of others.”

They were pulled up by the Supreme Court for filing such an affidavit.

In May, the police filed a new affidavit, stating that an FIR had been filed after examining the material and that action would be taken according to the law. “All links in the complaint and other material available in the public domain were analysed, and a video was found on YouTube,” the police said. A case was filed on May 4 at Okhla Industrial Area police station under IPC sections 153A, 295A, 298 and 34 for promoting religious enmity.

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