‘Serious offence’: Supreme Court directs all states, UTs to register cases on own over hate speeches

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

Supreme Court, coal india
The CIL then appealed in the Supreme Court arguing that all its coal mines as per the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973, are fully outside the purview of the competition law. (PTI Photo)

Extending the scope of its 2022 order beyond three states, the Supreme Court on Friday directed all states and Union Territories to take suo motu action against those making hate speeches even if no complaint has been registered, reported Live Law. The October 2022 order was only applicable to the states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

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

The top court bench was hearing a batch of petitions which sought action with respect to various instances of hate crimes across the country.

“Respondents shall ensure that immediately, as and when any speech or any action takes place which attracts offences such as Section 153A, 153B, 295A and 506 of IPC etc, without any complaint being filed suo motu action be taken to register cases and proceed against the offenders in accordance with the law,” the bench said.

“We further make it clear that such action be taken irrespective of the religion of the maker of the speech, so that the secular character of Bharat as envisaged by the Preamble is preserved,” it clarified.

Section 153A of IPC deals with promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony; 153B speaks about imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration); 295A refers to deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage reli­gious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs; Section 506 deals with the offence of criminal indimation.

The top court’s order came on a plea filed by journalist Shaheen Abdullah, who had initially sought directions against Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to register cases against those delivering hate speeches. Abdullah again moved an application seeking implementation of the apex court’s October 21, 2022 order across all Indian states and union territories, reported news agency PTI.

The bench said that the “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”, adding that the petitions were considered for the “larger public good” and to ensure the establishment of “rule of law”.

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

In October last year, a Supreme Court two-judge bench of Justices K M Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy had expressed anguish over hate speeches calling them “very disturbing”, reported The Indian Express.

Justice Joseph said, “This is the 21st century. Where have we reached? What have we reduced religion to? Article 51A speaks of scientific temper. It is tragic.”

Kerala’s Kozhikode resident Shaheen Abdullah in a plea highlighted speeches delivered at a Virat Hindu Sabha organised by the VHP’s Delhi unit and other Hindu organisations in the Capital on October 10, and other similar petitions seeking action following hate speeches against Muslims at some Dharam Sansad events.

Get live Share Market updates and latest India News and business news on Financial Express. Download Financial Express App for latest business news.

First published on: 28-04-2023 at 17:53 IST