A group of 95 retired civil servants, under the aegis of Constitutional Conduct Group, Sunday wrote an open letter in defence of activist Harsh Mander while accusing the Solicitor General and the Delhi Police for distorting his case in the Supreme Court.
In a plea before the apex court, Mander had sought registration of FIRs against BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Sahib Singh and Abhay Verma for their alleged hate speeches in the run-up to the Delhi assembly elections. The Delhi police, in its counter-affidavit, had claimed to have come across a video clip of Mander’s speech at Jama Masjid instigating violence and making derogatory remarks against the top court.
Following this on March 4, the top court had said it won’t hear Mander unless he clarifies on the matter.
In the open letter, the group, which includes former Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, said, “It seems that after an affidavit was filed by the Deputy Commissioner of Police to the effect that Harsh Mander had not only instigated violence but also been seriously contemptuous of the SC. The SC decided not to hear Harsh Mander’s case until the matter of his allegedly “derogatory remarks” was looked into. A link was provided to the video in the affidavit and a prayer was made to dismiss his petition and file charges of contempt against him. We understand, however, that the full video of the speech was not presented before the Court.”
Mentioning that the video of Mander was “selectively edited”, the letter said, “It is apparent that the video-recording submitted by the SG and the police was an edited version comprising selectively chosen excerpts from the recording, which had been clipped in places so as to convey the impression that Harsh Mander had both instigated violence and committed contempt of the SC. We strongly feel that the speech has to be read in context, in sequence and in full to appreciate its message.”
Accusing the Solicitor General and DCP Delhi Police of distorting facts, the retired civil servants said, “By what inversion of meaning, by what distortion of facts and by what supreme disregard for the plain truth do the Solicitor General of India and the Deputy Commissioner of Police seek to mislead the Supreme Court of India?”
“In our considered and collective opinion, there is a good case for filing a suit for defamation against both worthy gentlemen but that is a decision for the person defamed to take,” the letter further said.