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Hate speech: Supreme Court issues notice to 4 states for not appointing nodal officers, refuses to entertain individual matters

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the States of Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Nagaland and Kerala for not appointing nodal officers in every district to curb incidents of mob violence and lynching

The Bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice S.V. Bhatti passed the order on a batch of petitions concerning the incidences of hate speech across the country.

Earlier, the Apex Court had asked the Central government to file an affidavit regarding the States and Union Territories which have adhered to the Supreme Court directives laid out in the Tehseen Poonawalla case.

Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj, appearing for the Centre, apprised the Bench that 28 States and Union Territories have appointed Nodal Counsels to tackle lynching and mob violence, besides procure intelligence reports pertaining to individuals likely to commit such crimes or engage in the dissemination of hate speeches.

The affidavit further gave details on which States or Union Territories were yet to comply with the directives.

The ASG submitted that on October 11, 2023, the Home Secretary had called a meeting of all States and Union territories, informing them about the steps to be taken regarding the Tehseen Poonawala directives. They were directed to file a compliance report in this connection, he added.

He said the States of Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Nagaland had not responded to the letter, adding that since these five states have not responded to their letter, the government did not know whether they had appointed the Nodal Counsel or not.

The Counsel appearing for the West Bengal government said that the State has duly adhered to the directions and appointed the Nodal counsel.

The Court then issued notice to the four states and listed the matter for further hearing on February 5.

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