‘Abjuring Hate Speech Fundamental to Maintain Communal Harmony’: SC Asks Centre on Actions Taken

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NEW DELHI – The Supreme Court on Tuesday orally observed that abjuring hate speech is a fundamental requisite to maintain communal harmony.

Advocate Nizam Pasha, representing a petitioner, cited a news article in connection with hate speeches made at several rallies in Maharashtra before a bench headed by Justice K M Joseph.

As Pasha said he has annexed news reports and sought action, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta took objection to the plea being filed on the basis of news reports.

Mehta contended before the bench, also comprising Justice B.V. Nagarathna, that Pasha is referring to information which only deals with Maharashtra and added the petitioner, who is from Kerala, is fully aware of Maharashtra and pointed that the plea is only confined to Maharashtra.

He contended that the petitioner can approach the magistrates’ court seeking recourse under the CrPC to report hate crimes, instead, he has filed contempt petition before the apex court, which is based on news articles.

The bench noted that when it passed the order, it was aware of the prevailing conditions in the country. “We understand what is happening, the fact that we are keeping silent should not be misunderstood,” it said.

At this, Mehta said: “If we are really serious about this issue then please direct the petitioner, who is a public spirited person, to collect all hate speeches across religions and place it before the court for similar action. He cannot be selective.” He added that the apex court needs to ascertain the genuineness.

The top court then orally observed that abjuring hate speech is fundamental requisite for maintenance of communal harmony, to which Mehta agreed.

The bench asked Mehta, what actions have been after lodging of FIRs and merely registering complaints is not going to solve the problem of hate speech. Mehta submitted that 18 FIRs have been lodged in relation to hate speeches.

The top court will continue to hear the matter on Wednesday.

During the hearing, Mehta emphasised on the hate speech rallies in Kerala and suggested that the court may ask the petitioner to bring those instances of hate speeches to its notice and further question the petitioner saying there is complete peace in the rest of the country and there is no hate speech elsewhere.

In October last year, the top court had stressed that the Constitution envisages India as a secular nation, while directing Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments to take strict action on hate speech cases, and registering criminal cases against culprits without waiting for a complaint to be filed. -IANS

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