Guwahati, March 18: The Gauhati High Court has stayed an order passed by a lower court directing the Assam Police to register a case against Assam chief minister, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma for his alleged provocative remarks over an eviction drive in Darrang district in December last year.
The court of the Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SDJM) had on March 5, 2022, ordered Dispur Police station to register a case against the chief minister on the basis of complaints from Congress MP Abdul Khaleque who accused Sarma of making provocative remarks on the eviction drive at Dholpur.
The Dispur police station ‘earlier did not register an FIR’ against the chief minister prompting the Congress MP to move the court of SDJM on February 27, 2022, alleging police inaction.
Subsequently, a petition under Section 482 of the Cr.PC was filed seeking quashing of the order passed by the Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate (S)-I, Kamrup (Metro) court in CR case (number 1598/2022).
Advocate General for the state of Assam Devajit Saikia, appearing for the petitioners, questioned the propriety of the order, while submitting that the entire allegation in the FIR is based on the speech dated December 10, 2021 at Morigaon, in which the chief minister allegedly made "communally sensitive" statements.
It has been alleged in the FIR that Sarma had given wanton provocation to people to commit act of rioting against a particular community of the state and that by such a provocative speech, he intended to promote enmity, hatred and ill will towards the Muslim population of Assam.
Referring to the transcripted Assamese version as well as the translated English version of the speech of Sarma, annexed with the petition, it was submitted by the Advocate General that there was not a single word in the statement in respect of any particular community, not to speak of Muslim community to create the feeling of enmity, hatred, ill will, etc., as well as to provoke the people for act of rioting against any community.
The Advocate General submitted that the transcription of the speech was not there with the complaint which is the foundation of the complaint itself, and therefore, there was no scope for the magistrate to examine the speech to take a view on the matter.
“The cassette containing the speech of the respondent as placed before the court apparently was not gone through by the court and in spite of that the order reflects that the learned court has gone through all the documents, which probably included the cassette also,” the Advocate General submitted.
Saikia further submitted that on receipt of the FIR, the same was entered in the general diary and a preliminary enquiry was made as per the provisions of Section 157(1)(b) of the Cr.PC, and finding no material to initiate an investigation, the matter was closed with intimation to the higher ups in the police department.
“A preliminary investigation conducted under Section 157(1) (b) of the Cr.PC was not in the notice of the court resulting in passing of the impugned order,” he submitted. According to the Advocate General, these aspects were not looked into by the court below while passing the impugned order.
Subsequently, the High Court observed: “On consideration of the contents of the petition, facts leading to the passing of the impugned order by the court, and on hearing the submissions made by the learned Advocate General, Assam for the petitioners, this Court is of the view that serious issues having enormous legal implications have been raised in the application requiring this Court to examine the matter thoroughly and in detail.”
“Considering the submissions made by the Advocate General, Assam and in view of the observation made, this Court is inclined to stay the operation of the impugned order dated March 5, 2022 passed by the learned Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate (S)-I, Kamrup (Metro) in CR Case No. 1598/2022,” Justice Hitesh Kumar Sarma said.
The matter has been listed for hearing on April 1, 2022.