New Delhi: Delhi High Court today asked MNS chief Raj Thackeray to refrain from making statements against non-Maharashtrian people, as it reserved order on his plea for quashing of summons issued against him for allegedly making a hate speech in 2012.
“No one has a problem with any individual promoting his state or language. You promote Maharashtra, no one has problem with that, but don't interfere in the rights of others,” Justice Manmohan Singh said.
The bench observed “everyone has their own rights and he (Thackeray) should not say such things against the people of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.”
During the hearing, Arunabh Chowdhury, counsel appearing for the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) head, said no prior sanction for prosecution from the Centre or the state was taken under section 196 of CrPC, before the magistrate took cognizance of the offence of promoting enmity between different groups against his client under sections 153 (a) and 153(b) of the IPC.
He argued that even the police has filed a closure report in the case but magistrate rejected it and summoned Thackeray. “This summoning order is bad in law and no requisite procedure was followed and is without any jurisdiction. This summoning order as well as the FIR lodged at Dwarka police station should be quashed,” he said.
When the bench asked the counsel for Thackeray whether a probe is being carried out in the case, he replied in affirmative and said no hate speeches were given by his client in Azad Maidan or at any other instance.
Complainant Mithilesh Kumar Pandey, on whose complaint the summons were issued by the court, accepted that there is a mandatory provision for prior sanction from Centre or state government for summoning any accused for these offences.
“There are more than 173 FIRs pending against Thackeray with respect to hate speeches and he has never appeared before any court, or no one from MNS has appeared. Trial should not be stalled in the matter. Summons can be held back for some time till the requisite sanctions are received,” Pandey said.
Pandey contended that the FIR could be kept in abeyance and not quashed as prayed by Thackeray because the question of sanction for prosecution was also involved. The bench then asked Pandey to show a single line in his complaint where Thackeray gave statements against people from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.
However, he was unable to do so but said Thackeray's statements at Azad Maidan had led to violence and promoted hatred among masses.
Counsel for Delhi Police said the Centre or state government was not party in the case and it can proceed only after they are impleaded as a party in the matter. The bench, while posting the matter for April 24, said it will consider the matter and pass an appropriate order. Thackeray has been summoned as accused for April 25 by the trial court.
On March 17, the court had issued notice to complainant and Delhi police on the plea of Thackeray. The trial court had issued the summons on October 7, 2014, on Pandey's complaint referring to a rally in Mumbai addressed by Thackeray, in which he had allegedly blamed Muslims from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand for violence during protests against Assam riots in 2012.
In his complaint, Pandey had said that the MNS chief, in his political rally, had repeatedly targeted these migrants and even declared them as “insurgents” and threatened to throw them out of Maharashtra.