Bombay HC Orders Maharashtra Police to Ensure Security at Ram Navami Rally Amidst Hate Speech Allegations

Bombay HC directs Maharashtra police to ensure security at Ram Navami rally, regardless of political ties. Petition seeks FIRs against BJP legislators for hate speech. Police ordered to review speeches. Hearing adjourned to April 23. Case: Aftab Siddique & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.

The Bombay High Court issued directives to the Maharashtra police on Monday, urging them to prevent any potential breaches during the upcoming Ram Navami rally in Mumbai's Malwani area, regardless of the organizers' or speakers' political affiliations.

A division bench, comprising Justice Revati Mohite Dere and Justice Manjusha Deshpande, addressed a writ petition seeking FIRs against BJP legislators Nitesh Rane, Geeta Jain, and T Raja for alleged hate speeches during communal clashes in Mira Road in January.

"We cannot stop any public rally, but we expect your officers will take appropriate action in accordance with the law if there is any breach, irrespective of political party," the court remarked.

The petitioners alleged that the rally organizers deliberately chose minority areas and had previously halted the rally near mosques. They requested a change in the rally route.

Responding to the petitioners' concerns, the bench urged the police to ensure alternative routes are taken. "Ultimately, a law-and-order problem comes, you (police) will face problems," the court stated.

Advocate General Birendra Saraf assured the court that he would convey this to the police, emphasizing the need for extra caution.

Saraf informed the court that the Commissioners of Police (CPs) of Mumbai and nearby districts would review the speeches made by the concerned leaders and decide within a week whether FIRs for hate speech should be lodged.

Expressing displeasure, the court recalled an incident where Rane allegedly delivered a hate speech during a press conference held at the Police Commissioner's office in Naya Nagar, Mira Road, in January. The court emphasized the government's responsibility to prevent such incidents, stating that individuals should not be allowed to address the media in the Commissioner's office.

While acknowledging its inability to prohibit public rallies, the court urged law enforcement officers to promptly address any breaches that occur.

The hearing was adjourned to April 23.

Case Title: Aftab Siddique & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.