Supreme Court Asks Maharashtra Police To Ensure No Hate Speeches at Hindu Body’s Proposed Event in Mumbai

The Supreme Court asked the Maharashtra government on Friday to ensure that no hate speeches are delivered if authorities allow the Hindu Jan Akrosh Morcha to hold an event in Mumbai on February 5.

A bench of Justices KM Joseph and JB Pardiwala was told by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared in the matter on behalf of the Maharashtra government, that the state undertakes that if the event is allowed to be held, it will be subject to the condition that “nobody will make any hate speech and act in defiance of law or disturb the public order”.

The bench recorded Mehta’s statement and asked the state government to ensure that no hate speeches are delivered at the event.

“We also direct that in case permission is granted and in case the occasion arises for invoking power under section 151 of CrPC, it shall be the duty of the police officers concerned to invoke the provision,” it said.

The top court was hearing a petition filed by one Shaheen Abdullah, seeking the court’s intervention to ensure that incidents such as one that took place at a January 29 meeting of the Hindu Jan Akrosh Morcha, where hate speeches were allegedly delivered against a particular community, are not repeated.

Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said police should invoke section 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which empowers them to make arrests to prevent a cognisable offence.

Sibal sought the videography of the entire event and that a report be submitted to the court.

The bench, in its order, asked police to videograph the event and a file report to it.

It also asked Mehta to seek instructions about the January 29 event of the Hindu Jan Akrosh Morcha.

During the hearing, Mehta opposed the plea and accused the petitioner of selectively taking up causes, while claiming to be a “public-spirited citizen”.

He said the petitioner is from Kerala but is concerned about a proposed event in Maharashtra.

“Now, individuals are selectively choosing a subject and coming to this court, saying ban this event in Uttarakhand or Madhya Pradesh or Maharashtra. Can this court be converted into an authority which grants permissions for holding events?” the solicitor general asked, adding that accepting the prayer to stop the event would amount to pre-censorship of speeches.

Sibal said at the January 29 event, grave statements were made by the participants, including a member of Parliament from the ruling party, and all this needs to be considered before granting permission for the next event.

The apex court had lamented on Thursday that nobody was taking action against hate speeches despite its orders and observed that it would be left “embarrassed again and again” if it is asked to issue further directions to curb such statements.

The strong observations of the court came when a plea seeking to prohibit the proposed February 5 event of the Hindu Jan Akrosh Morcha in Mumbai was mentioned before it for an urgent hearing.

Holding that the Constitution envisages a secular country, the top court had, on October 21 last year, directed the Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments to come down hard on hate speeches by promptly registering criminal cases against the culprits, without waiting for a complaint.

It had also warned that any delay on the part of the administration in taking action on this “very serious issue” would invite the court’s contempt.

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