SC Directs All States, UTs to Register Cases Against Those Making Hate Speeches Even in Absence of Complaint

Extending the scope of its 2022 order beyond three states, the Supreme Court on Friday directed all states and Union Territories to register cases against those making hate speeches even if no complaint has been made.

A bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna termed hate speeches a “serious offence capable of affecting secular fabric of the country”.

The bench said its October 21, 2022 order shall be made applicable irrespective of religion and warned any delay in registering cases will be treated as contempt of the court.

“Where have we reached in the name of religion? What have we reduced religion to is really tragic,” the apex court had then observed and directed Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Uttarakhand to crack down hard on those making hate speeches, calling them shocking for a country that is religion-neutral.

Holding that the Constitution of India envisages a secular nation, the court had directed Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi to promptly register criminal cases against the offenders without waiting for a complaint to be filed.

On Friday, the bench said, “The judges are apolitical and not concerned with Party A or Party B and the only thing they have in mind is the Constitution of India”.

It said the court has been entertaining petitions against hate speeches in different parts of the country for “larger public good” and to ensure establishment of “rule of law”.

The apex court warned any delay on the part of the administration in taking action on this “very serious issue” will invite the court’s contempt.

The top court’s order came on a plea filed by journalist Shaheen Abdullah, who had initially sought direction against Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to register cases against those delivering hate speeches.

Abdullah had again moved an application seeking implementation of the apex court’s October 21, 2022 order across states and union territories.

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