The Supreme Court on Wednesday made a serious exception to hate speech, saying it will end the moment politics and religion are separated and politicians stop using religion in politics.
The Supreme Court has labeled hate speech a “vicious circle” and said these speeches are made by fringe elements and people should steer clear of them.
Judges KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna referred to speeches by former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Atal Bihari Vajpayee and said people from remote areas and from every nook and cranny had gathered to listen.
“A big problem arises when politicians mix politics with religion. The moment politics and religion are separated, this will end. When politicians stop using religion, all of this will stop. We also said in our recent ruling that mixing politics and religion is dangerous for democracy,” Judge Joseph said.
Wondering how many people can bring courts for contempt, the bank said why people in India cannot pledge not to disparage other citizens or communities.
“Everyday fringe elements make speeches to denigrate others, including on television and public forums,” the bank said while listening to a contempt motion against various state agencies, including Maharashtra, for failing to register FIRs against those who made such speeches.
When Attorney General Tushar Mehta pointed to a derogatory speech by a man in Kerala against a particular community and questioned that the petitioner Shaheen Abdullah had selectively referred to incidents of hate speech in the country, it sparked a sharp exchange of words between the court and Mehta.
He also pointed to a statement from a DMK party leader, saying why the petitioner’s attorney did not make him and those states a party to the contempt motion.
Referring to those speeches, the bench said “every action has the same reaction,” stressing, “We obey the Constitution, and orders are in any case building blocks in the structure of the rule of law.”
We’re hearing the contempt petition because states aren’t acting on time. Because the state has become impotent, powerless and does not act in time. Why should we even have a state if it is silent?”
Mehta then said, “I can’t say that about any state, but Center isn’t. Center has banned PFI. Please send a notice to Kerala State so they can act on this.” When the court ordered Mehta to proceed with his submissions, he said: “Please do not do so. This will have wider implications. Why are we afraid to watch the clip? Why can’t the court allow me to play the video clip of the speeches? Why Kerala can’t be denounced and join the petition. Let’s not be picky. I’m trying to show the clip which is in the public domain. This court could have taken note of those speeches suo motu.”
The bank replied: “Let’s not make this a drama. This is a court case,” adding, “There is a method to see the video clip. This applies equally to everyone. If you (Mehta) want, you can include it in your filing.” At the hearing on the contempt motion, there were some strong remarks from the court, saying, “Hate speech is like a vicious circle. One person will make it and then another. When our constitution was created, there were no such speeches. Now there are cracks in the idea of brotherhood. There has to be some restraint. Some sought-after mechanisms need to be developed by the state so that we can curb these types of statements.” Judge Nagarathna said:
“We need to look at where we are going as a country? There were speakers like Jawaharlal Nehru and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Midnight Speech. People from remote areas and from every nook and cranny came to hear these leaders. Now fringe elements from all sides are making these statements and we are now being called upon to take contempt measures against these people.” She said how can a court curb the “intellectual deprivation” that arises from a lack of knowledge and education.
“How much contempt upon contempt we can endure towards these people. That’s why I recently asked how the court will deal with it. Why do you (petitioner) start with the Apex Court? Should there be no restraint in speaking, otherwise we will not be the India we wish for. Why can’t the citizens of this country make a commitment not to slander others and what kind of joys we have in making these speeches,” she said.
The Supreme Court, which granted an intervention motion filed by a Hindu Samaj organization that had been holding rallies in Maharashtra, told his lawyer: “Some people make statements that the vast majority of the community disagrees with. They regularly say things that denigrate and destroy the dignity of others. Statements like “go to Pakistan” are made. People from other communities chose this country. They are like your brothers and sisters. We’re trying to say that you don’t go to that level.
The bench, which chided the lawyer for speaking at such rallies, said: “Do you have the right to break the law of the land? If you break the rule of law in the country, it will come down on you like a rockfall. If you want real development of the country and want it to become a superpower, then we must respect the rule of law and only then can we make our country a better place to live.”
Lawyer Nizam Pasha, who represented the petitioner, said hatred has no religion and he is here to defend rights.
“We are not whataboutery and anyone can come up with a complaint. Names of hate speech representatives keep popping up. Court can request status report on states’ measures against hate speech,” he stated, referring to the data and speeches in various states.
Pasha said that 50 rallies were held in Maharashtra in the last four months where hate speech was made.
Additional Attorney General SV Raju, who appeared for the center, said that under the law established by this court, the state cannot object and is obliged to register the FIR if a recognizable offense is found.
The Supreme Court released the matter for further hearing on April 28 and asked for a response from the Maharashtra government on the plea.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had said that renunciation of hate speech was a basic requirement for maintaining communal harmony in the country and asked the center what action it took after FIRs were filed in hate speech cases.
Noting that simply registering complaints will not solve the problem of hate speech, the Center recalled the need to take action against those who make such speech.
Noting that the constitution recognizes India as a secular nation, the Supreme Court on October 21 ordered the governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to crack down on cases of hate speech and to institute criminal proceedings against those found guilty without waiting for charges filed.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published by a syndicated feed.)
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