• During the Wednesday hearing, solicitor general Tushar Mehta read selective excerpts from a speech Harsh Mander made at Jamia Milia Islamia university
  • Mehta alleged that Mander’s address incited the crowd urging them to decide India’s future on its streets
  • He also quoted an excerpt where Mander allegedly claimed that he does not believe in the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to hear the petition of social activist and former IAS officer Harsh Mander, who was among other petitioners demanding FIR against BJP leaders — Anurag Thakur, Kapil Mishra and Parvesh Verma — for hate speech that allegedly stoked Delhi riots of 23 February. The Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant was told by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the court can’t be selective and speeches from both sides should be scrutinised.

The bench, visibly irked at the former IAS officer’s comments declined to hear his plea until the matter about his comments is ‘sorted’. The court will hear the matter of Mander’s speech on Friday, 6 March. During the hearing, Mehta read selective excerpts from a speech Mander made at Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI) University on 16 December, 2019, during an anti-CAA protest, claiming it incited violence and instigated the crowd against the apex court.

Mehta cited transcripts of Mandar’s reported speech at the Jamia Millia Islamia university, where he reportedly said that there is no trust left in the courts and that ultimate justice has to be on the streets. Mehta cited a video clip of Mander and said that he is seen to have “called on the people of India” and is heard saying that “real justice will be done on the streets”

Mehta further added that it was apparent that inflammatory speeches were made by both sides. “Lets not forget that these people are abusing these forums,” he said referring to Mander. “The allegations against Mander are serious. The court will not hear Mander till the issue on allegations against him is sorted out,” said the CJI.

What did the ex-bureaucrat actually say at Jamia Milia Islamia? Here is a translation of Mander’s full speech:

“I will raise a slogan today — what are we fighting for and who are we fighting for? This fight is first for our country, then for our Constitution, and then for love. This government has challenged and declared war not just against our Muslim brothers and sisters of this country, but also against the way this country was imagined to be. During the freedom struggle, there was an imagination of India, an imagining of what kind of a nation ours would be after the colonial rule ended.

Our imagination was that we would build a nation where it won’t matter whether you believed in Bhagwan or Allah or even if you didn’t believe in anything. It wouldn’t matter what jaati (caste) one belonged to or what language one spoke. It would not matter if you were rich or poor, woman or man. Everyone would be considered an equal human being and an equal citizen of this country. You would have as much right to this country as anyone else.

Today, when the Muslims of this country are being asked to prove their love and loyalty for this country, it’s important to note that this question is being asked by those who never participated in India’s freedom struggle and made no sacrifices.

The Muslim brothers and sisters and children who are present here are Indian by choice. The rest of us are Indians by chance. We had no choice. We had only this country. But you (Muslims) had a choice and your ancestors chose to live in this country.

Today, those who are in the government are trying to prove that (Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali) Jinnah was right and Mahatma Gandhi was wrong. The name of their party should be changed from Bharatiya Janata Party to Bharatiya Jinnah Party. Jinnah sahab had said that India is not one country, but two: “Muslim Pakistan and Hindu Hindustan”.

What we are saying is that this is one nation: India, and that everyone – Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, atheists, Adivasis, Dalits, rich, poor, man, woman, everyone – has equal rights.

Anyone who asks you about your nationality and threatens to take away your rights is being challenged by a movement going on across states to save the Constitution of the country and to save love and friendship which form the soul of the Constitution. To save our constitution, we have come out on the streets and will continue to occupy the streets.

However, our fight cannot be won in the Parliament because our political parties, who declare themselves secular, do not have the moral strength to take up the fight. This fight will also not be won in the Supreme Court. As we have seen its previous judgments case on NRC, Ayodhya dispute and abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, the Supreme Court failed to protect humanity, equality and secularism. We will definitely try as hard as we can in the Supreme Court, because it is our Supreme Court after all. However, the final decision/verdict will be given neither by the Parliament nor by the Supreme Court.

What will be the future of the country? You are young people – what kind of a country do you want to leave for your children? Where will this decision be made? On the one hand, the decision can be taken on the streets. We are all out on the streets. However, there is one more space, bigger than the streets, where this decision will be taken. But the solution to our struggle will be found in a space bigger than the streets – in your hearts and mine.

What is this space where the solution to this struggle can be found? It’s in our hearts – in your heart and in mine.

If they want to respond to us with hatred and we respond likewise, then only hatred will thrive. If there is someone spreading darkness in the country and we counter them by spreading more then it is natural that darkness will grow thicker. If there’s darkness, it can be countered only by lighting a lamp. If there’s a greater darkness, we will light our own individual lamps. That’s how darkness can be defeated. We have only one answer to their hatred, and that answer is love.

They will cause violence, they will incite us to violence, but we will never commit violence. Please understand that it is their ploy to incite you to commit violence. If we respond with even two percent violence, there response will be 100 times greater. But we know what Gandhi ji taught us about violence and injustice