On Wednesday, the Supreme Court strongly condemned hate speech, declaring that it would cease as soon as politics and religion were separated and politicians stopped utilising religion for political purposes.
The highest court referred to hate speech as a “vicious circle,” saying that it is being made by fringe groups and that people should exercise restraint.
Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna’s bench cited former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s speeches, stating that they attracted listeners from far-flung places and every nook and cranny.
When politicians use religion, a major problem arises, Justice Joseph said. “We have said in our recent verdict that mixing politics with religion is dangerous for democracy. The moment politics and religion are segregated, this will end. When politicians stop using religion, all this will stop.”
The bench questioned how many people a court could punish for contempt and asked why Indians couldn’t promise to stop defaming other people or groups of people.
While hearing a contempt petition against several state authorities, including Maharashtra, for failing to file FIRs against those making such speeches, the bench stated that “everyday fringe elements are making speeches to vilify others, including on TV and public forums.”
The court and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta engaged in heated discussion after Mehta brought up a man’s disparaging speech against a particular community that was made in Kerala and questioned whether petitioner Shaheen Abdullah had singled out only certain instances of hate speech in the nation.
The petitioner’s counsel should have included him and those states in the contempt petition, he continued, citing a remark made by a DMK party leader.
In reference to those remarks, the court stressed that “every action has an equal reaction,” that it was adhering to the Constitution, and that “orders in every case are bricks in the structure of the rule of law.”
Why should we have a state at all if it is silent? “We are considering the contempt petition because states are not acting in time, which is because the state has become impotent, powerless, and does not act in time.
As the court asked Mehta to continue, he said, “Please do not do this. This will have wider ramifications. Why are we shying away from looking at the clip? Why can’t the court allow me to play the video clip of the speeches? Why Kerala can’t be issued notice and made a party to the petition.” Mehta then said, “Can’t say that about any state but Centre is not. Center has banned PFI. Please issue notice to state of Kerala so that
The bench replied, “Let us not make this a drama. This is legal proceedings” and added, “There is a method to see the video clip. This applies to all equally. If you (Mehta) want, you can include it in your submission.” The hearing of the contempt petition saw some strong observations from the court in which it said, “Hate speeches are like a vicious circle. One person will make it and then another will make it. When our constitution was founded, there were no such speeches. Now there are cracks coming up in the idea of fraternity. There has to be some restraint. Some sought of mechanism needs to be developed by the state so that we can curb this kind of statements.” Justice Nagarathna said, “We need to look where we as a country are going? There were orators like Jawaharlal Nehru and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the midnight speech. People from remote areas and every nook and corner used to come hear these leaders. Now fringe elements from all sides are making these statements and we are now asked to take contempt action against these people.” She said that how can a court curtail “intellectual deprivation” which comes from lack of knowledge and education.
Why do you (petitioner) start with the apex court? Shouldn’t there be some restraint on speeches otherwise we won’t become the India we desire. Why can’t the citizens of this country take a pledge to not vilify others and what kind of pleasures we are deriving by making these speeches, she questioned. “How many contempt after contempt we can take against these people. That’s why I asked the other day, how the court will deal with this.
“Statements are being made by some people, which the vast majority of the community do not subscribe to. They are saying things which are demeaning and demolishing the dignity of others on a regular basis. Statements are made like ‘Go to Pakistan. People of other communities chose this country. They are like your bro.'” The top court, which allowed an intervention application filed by an organisation called “Hindu Samaj,” which had held rallies in Maharashtra, told its counsel,
“Do you have the right to break the law of land? If you break the rule of law of the land it will befall on your head like a tumble of bricks. If you want real development of the country and want it to become a superpower, then we need to have respect for rule of law and then only we can make our country a better place to live in,” the bench chided the counsel for speeches in such rallies.
Speaking on behalf of the petitioner, attorney Nizam Pasha said that he was there to uphold rights and that hate knows no boundaries based on faith.
He argued and cited statistics and speeches made in various states, saying, “We are not whataboutery and anyone can come with a grievance. Names of hate speech givers are coming up repeatedly. Court can ask for a status report on action taken by the states against hate speeches.
According to Pasha, hateful speeches were delivered at 50 demonstrations held in Maharashtra over the course of the previous four months.
According to the law established by this court, if a cognizable crime is made out, the state cannot object and is required to file the FIR, according to Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, who was in attendance on behalf of the Centre.
The Supreme Court requested the Maharashtra government’s answer to the petition and continued the case for hearing on April 28.
The country’s highest court stated on Tuesday that rejecting hate speech is a crucial condition for preserving communal harmony, and it questioned the Centre about the steps that had been taken following the filing of FIRs in hate speech cases.
It reminded the Center that taking action against those making such statements is necessary, noting that simply filing complaints won’t end the issue of hate speeches.
The top court ordered the Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand governments to crack down on cases of hate speech and to submit criminal charges against offenders without waiting for a complaint to be filed on October 21. The court held that the Constitution envisions India as a secular nation.