Will UP CM Adityanath finally be made to account for his hate speech?     

With the Supreme Court being seized of the matter, possibilities of evading the law have considerably narrowed down

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

Saurav Datta

For quite some time, Ajay Singh Bisht aka Yogi Adityanath, presently the CM of Uttar Pradesh, has been delivering hate speeches, all of them quite well documented and reported in the media, with merry abandon. But a recent Supreme Court order could well throw a spanner in his works and pave the path towards the erosion of impunity enjoyed by many of India’s politically powerful.

This is because on August 20, the Supreme Court issued notice to the UP government and Adityanath and sought their replies, within four weeks, with regard to a hate speech the present UP CM had delivered and proudly owned up to, and from which he is likely to have reaped electoral and political benefits.

The case is not only about hate speech but also about a crucial conflict of interest- how can the Chief Secretary of a State, who works under the CM, decide fairly whether to grant sanction to prosecute the CM himself for a serious offence.

UP Government Protected a Hate Speech

On 27 January 2007, while the Gorakhpur communal riots were raging, Adityanath, who was then an MP from the district, was present at a “warning meeting” organised by the Hindu Yuva Vahini. Adityanath told the gathering that “if the blood of one Hindu is shed then they will not register any FIR with the administration instead they will get 10 Muslim killed. If damage is done to shops and properties of Hindus, they would indulge in similar actions towards the Muslims. Anything and everything will be done to save the glory of Hindus and Hinduism and all should be prepared for a fight.” Going on, he said that if Muslims abduct 1 Hindu girl as a part of their love jihad campaign, Hindus would abduct 100 Muslim girls as revenge. Then Adityanath repeats himself, and asks what should Hindus do if Muslims kill even one of them? The crowd, exhorted to no small extent, replies to raucous applause- kill ten of them.

This speech, calculated to incite, resulted in fanning the flames of the communal cauldron, and should have been acted against by the police, whose personnel were also present at the spot. But they remained mere bystanders.

Two local Muslims, one of them a journalist and social worker—Pervez Parwaz- and Asad Hayat—approached the police to take action, but the latter refused. Not willing to give up, the duo then filed an application before the Chief Judicial Magistrate by invoking Section 156(3) to have an FIR lodged, but on 29 July 2008, he rejected the application.

It was only when the High Court intervened in 2008 and directed the CJM to reconsider his decision, that an FIR was finally registered. The police invoked charges under various provisions of the IPC dealing with hate speech and inciting communal enmity, and besides Adityanath, local BJP and RSS leaders who were present at the spot and cheered him on, were also named.

The state CID (Crime Investigation Department) took seven years to investigate the case, and in the meanwhile, the petitioner’s plea for an independent agency to probe the matter was stoutly resisted by the government.

It was only in 2014 that the investigating officer submitted his draft report—terming it as the DFR (Draft Final Report) —and finding that a prima facie case was made out against those named in the FIR, sought the government’s sanction to prosecute Adityanath and his cohorts. For two years the UP government did nothing in this regard. The question arises- why did the police did not submit a proper final report even after apparently investigating the case with diligence over so many years?

In 2017, when Adityanath stormed to power as Uttar Pradesh CM, in a sort of foregone conclusion, the Principal Secretary of the government under him moved swiftly to deny sanction to prosecute. The government said that there was no credible evidence against Adityanath, and that the CD of the speech had been tampered with. However, it did not utter a single word about a piece of clinching evidence which would have done in Adityanath.

Clinching Evidence, in Adityanath’s Own Words

On 30 August 2014, Adityanath was the guest on the Rajat Sharma anchored programme Aap Ki Adalat on India TV. On that programme, a video of which is available on YouTube till date, between 19.02- 24.05 minutes, Adityanath, without any compunction whatsoever, defended everything of what he had said in the 2007 speech. When Sharma repeatedly questioned him on how, as an MP and the elected CM of a state he could support statements which were clearly punishable by criminal law, Adityanath remained resolute and repeated that all his actions and words were in defence of Hinduism, protecting and promoting which no offence was because India is a Hindu nation.

High Court’s Cavalier Attitude

Parwaz and Hayat, not to be deterred, challenged the government’s refusal of sanction to prosecute in the High Court. On 22 February 2018, in a judgement which the petitioners’ lawyer Fuzail Ayubi termed as “cavalier”, the High Court found no fault in the government’s action. It refused to admit the petitioners’ claim that what Adityanath proudly said on the India TV programme was proof enough of his guilt- after all, it was an extra judicial confession which was given sans any coercion and was still available in the public domain. But the judges decided to believe the police version that credible evidence against the CM was missing.

According to Ayubi, a more critical issue was of the High Court sidestepping a critical question of law that he had raised- that the government, having Adityanath as its head, acted in flagrant violation of a key principle of natural justice- no man should be a judge in his own case or in his own cause- by refusing sanction to prosecute. Ayubi contends that the government should not have been the deciding authority in the first place, because the Principal Secretary would obviously not do anything which would go against his superior- Adityanath.

Ayubi had cited the judgement of a seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court in the AK Kraipak case (1969) in which it was held that in the exercise of not only quasi-judicial powers and functions, but even administrative ones (as in the present case), the principles of natural justice must be mandatorily followed.

Now that the Supreme Court has taken admitted Parwaz and Hayat’s appeal against the Allahabad High Court ruling and issued notices to both Adityanath and the UP government, it would be watched with keen interest and scrutiny, whether the Hindutva leader would be able to dodge the law again, something which he had succeeded in doing till now.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines

Published: 05 Sep 2018, 5:14 PM