‘Remove hate, see the difference’: SC says everything said won’t amount to hate speech
The Supreme Court on Monday observed that everything which is said could not be equated with hate speech, stressing: “We have a common enemy, that is hate. That is the only thing. Remove hate from your minds and just see the difference.”
A bench of Justices K.M. Joseph and B.V. Nagarathna, hearing a batch of petitions seeking directions against hate speech, also considered a plea by Shaheen Abdullah in connection with an event organised by a body known as the Sakal Hindu Samaj in Mumbai earlier this month.
The top court had directed the Maharashtra government to record the event scheduled on February 5, and stressed that the government has to ensure that hate speeches are not made, while seeking a report on it.
During the hearing on Monday, the bench queried Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, did they make any hate speech, and he replied, according to his instruction: “No”.
Justice Joseph then told advocate Nizam Pasha, representing one of the petitioners in the matter, said: “Two days back we stayed the proceedings against (Delhi Chief Minister) Arvind Kejriwal… involved Section 125 of The Representation of the People Act… he brought a list of decisions of this court, as what is (Section) 123A. It is not everything is said amounts to hate speech. So, we have to be careful only in terms of (what) this section means, as interpreted by this court, will involve the offence. Correct. Bear that in mind also…”
Pasha submitted that reading of transcripts in these cases will help convince “my lords, that in these particular cases what is said amounts to hate speech”.
At this, the bench observed: “The problem is what is hate speech as such… we have to fall back on (IPC’s Sections) 153A and 295A… these are the provisions to deal with this kind of propensity… there has to be some vilification.”
Mehta said the counsel wants many things and “we were served yesterday, let us ascertain what he says is right or wrong”.
The bench told Mehta that it had asked him to give the report and video of the religious event and he said that it will be filed.
The bench asked Pasha if the meeting took place and he said that it did but was not on a large scale.
Justice Joseph orally observed: “We have a common enemy that is hate. That is the only thing. Remove hate from your minds and just see the difference. Everything will be clear.”
Concluding the hearing, he added: “We have got such a great, great civilisation… unparalleled in the whole world. Our civilisation, our knowledge is eternal.”
The top court scheduled the matter for further hearing on March 21.
The plea filed by Abdullah said: “The mass participation at these rallies being organised not just with the consent and knowledge of government authorities but with their active participation, pose a serious threat to the very foundation of our nation as a secular nation. The hatred being taught and the radicalisation of youth being carried out with such impunity will inevitably lead to communal disharmony and violence of an unfathomable scale across the country.”
The plea said rallies have been organized by the Sakal Hindu Samaj, an umbrella body of Hindu right-wing organisations under the banner of “Hindu Jan Aakrosh Sabha”. The last such rally took place on January 29 in Mumbai and more than 10,000 people attended a rally organised by Hindu far-right groups seeking boycott of goods from shops owned by Muslims and a law against “love jihad” and “religious conversions”.
“That the aforementioned Sakal Hindu Samaj will be organising yet another rally, of a similar nature, on February 5 in Mumbai. At least 15,000 people are expected to participate in the said rally. The very nature of all the previous rallies clearly indicate the kind of hate speeches that will in all likelihood be delivered at the same,” added the plea.
In October last year, the apex court had directed the Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand governments to come down hard on hate speeches, promptly registering criminal cases against the culprits without waiting for a complaint to be filed.