Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Hate crime: Supreme Court flays Uttar Pradesh Police for delay in registering complaint

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The Supreme Court on Monday flayed the Uttar Pradesh police for taking more than a year to register a criminal complaint in an alleged hate crime that took place in Noida in 2021. 

Stating that it was the duty of a secular State to get rid of such hate crimes, the Bench of Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice B.V. Nagarathna directed the Uttar Pradesh government to produce copies of the complaint and also provide information on whether the accused were still behind bars.

The Apex Court observed that in a secular country, there was no space for hate crime on the basis of religion.

When the state has the will, it should work to control such crimes. There could be other crimes along with the hate crime with a person wearing cap showing his religion. 

It said that if such acts were not stopped, then a dangerous atmosphere could be fostered.

The Bench reprimanded the Uttar Pradesh government for remaining oblivious to the hate crime and trying to ‘sweep’ it under the carpet. Certain rights were inherent to all, irrespective of a person belonging to a minority or majority, it noted. 

The Apex Court directed Additional Solicitor General (ASG) K.M. Nataraj, who appeared for the state government, to set an example by taking action against the guilty officers and sending across the message that one cannot get away with dereliction of duty. It further noted that such acts of dereliction have to be taken seriously.

The top court of the country further said that people did not have a choice in religion. The beauty and greatness of this nation remained in the fact that a citizen was born into a family and raised in one, but would stand for the country, whenever the need arose.

The Supreme Court passed the directions on a batch of petitions seeking steps taken against hate speech incidents. One of the pleas was filed by Kazeem Sherwani, which alleged that Sherwani was assaulted by some people in Noida in 2021 on the pretext of giving lift in a taxi. 

The petitioner said that he had filed a complaint in the local administration but when no action was taken, he moved the Supreme Court.

(Case title: Kazeem Ajmad Sherwani vs State of Uttar Pradesh)

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