Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Hate Speech: Supreme Court lists Brinda Karat’s plea seeking FIR against BJP leaders before Bench headed by Justice KM Joseph

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The Supreme Court on Monday listed the petition filed by CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat seeking registration of FIR against BJP leaders Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma for alleged hate speeches in 2020 before the Bench headed by Justice K M Joseph, observing that the Bench was dealing with similar matters.

The Bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice M.M. Sundresh asked the Counsel appearing for Karat as to whether there was already a matter pending before the Apex Court on similar issues.
After the Counsel replied that the Bench led by Justice Joseph was dealing with a batch of petitions seeking action against hate speech, the Bench noted that it would be better if the matter was listed before the same Bench, subject to orders of the Chief Justice of India.

On September 21, the Single-Judge Bench of Justice K.M. Joseph had pulled up the Central government for remaining a mute spectator to hate speeches being delivered during religious congregations and circulated through social media.

The Apex Court had further admonished news channels for unregulated broadcast of hate speeches and said that though freedom of speech was very important, one should know where to draw a line.

It observed that a hate speech was mostly based on certain convictions, which explained why it managed to grab the attention of audience and viewers.

The Bench directed the government of India not to take an adversarial stand, but to assist the court during the hearing of petitions pending since last one year.

It further directed the Union government to clarify it’s stand on whether or not, it intended to act on the recommendations of the Law Commission on curbing hate speech.

Following the Supreme Court orders, the Law Commission had submitted a report in 2017, suggesting specific laws.

The Commission had noted that though hate speech had not been defined under any law in the country, but certain legal provisions prohibited select forms of speech as an exception to freedom of speech.

The Commission had further prepared a draft legislation, suggesting insertion of new sections 153C (prohibiting incitement to hatred) and 505A (causing fear, alarm, or provocation of violence in certain cases).

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