“This side or that”, deal with those making hate speeches under law: SC

The Supreme Court asserted on Friday action must be taken against all those making hate speeches “this side or that side”.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti made the remark during a brief hearing on a batch of petitions seeking directions to curb hate speeches across states, including a plea for action against Hindu outfits calling for social and economic boycott of Muslims following the recent communal violence in Nuh-Gurugram in the Delhi-NCR region.

A lawyer claimed before the bench that the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a political party in Kerala, organised a rally in the state in July where slogans like “death to Hindus” were raised.

“We are very clear. This side or that side, they have to be treated alike and law will take its own course. If anyone indulges in anything which we know as hate speech, they will be dealt with as per the law. This is something which we have already expressed our opinion on,” the court said.

Justice Khanna said due to paucity of time, the bench will not be able to hear the matter further today as it has already listed petitions challenging the Bihar caste survey. All hate speech matters will be heard next Friday, the court said.

“I have gone through the 2018 verdict in the case of Tehseen Poonawalla and the guidelines issued by this court. I hope the guidelines are being strictly complied with,” Justice Khanna told Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, appearing for the Centre.

Advocate Nizam Pasha, representing one of the key petitioners Shaheen Abdullah, said they hope there are no sides to hate.

The lawyer, who claimed hate speeches were made against Hindus at the IUML rally, said Pasha had not placed correct facts before the court.

The bench restrained him from speaking further.

The court then allowed the petitioners and respondents to file whatever documents, written submissions they needed to file, and posted all the petitions for hearing on August 25.

On August 11, observing that there has to be harmony and comity between communities, the top court had mooted a committee constituted by the Director General of Police (DGP) of Haryana to go into the cases registered in the wake of the recent communal riots in the state that claimed six lives.

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The top court had made the observation while hearing a plea over alleged “blatant hate speeches” calling for killing members of a particular community and their social and economic boycott at rallies in different states, including Haryana.

It had asked Nataraj to seek instructions and inform it about the proposed committee.

The top court had also directed Shaheen Abdullah to collate all material, including videos, and submit to the nodal officers appointed in each state in pursuance of its October 21, 2022 judgement.

In his petition, Abdullah has referred to the August 2 order of the apex court passed in the context of Nuh-Gurugram violence which said, “We hope and trust that the state governments and police will ensure that no hate speeches irrespective of the identity are made against any community and there is no physical violence or damage to the properties.”

CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat has also moved the top court seeking to intervene in the plea filed by Abdullah.

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