Thursday, September 28, 2023

Supreme Court directs police to take suo motu action in hate speech cases across India irrespective of religion

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The Supreme Court has directed the police to take suo motu action in hate speech cases without looking at the religion of the offenders across states and union territories of India, by extended the scope of a previous order given.

A Bench of Justice KM Joseph and Justice BV Nagarathna have expanded the scope of the interim order that was only limited to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Police.

The Bench said this was in allegiance to the Constitution of India.

The Bench remarked that the bench is totally apolitical and does not care if it is party A, B or C. The bench only cares about the Constitution and the laws of the country.

The October 2022 order also said that non-compliance of any directions would invite contempt proceedings. This has resulted in contempt petitions being filed before the court.

With regard to these, the Court was informed that counter affidavits have been filed. The case will now be heard on May 12.

The order was passed in a batch of pleas seeking steps to be taken against hate speech incidents.

In July last year, the top court had directed the Union Home Ministry to prepare a detailed chart outlining the compliance of states with the general directions issued by it in the judgments of Shakti Vahini and Tehseen Poonawalla, towards curbing hate speech.

In September, the apex court had taken a very dim view of the functioning of mainstream television news channels in the country, stating that they often give space for hate speech and then escape without any sanctions. Further, it observed that politicians benefit the most when their hate speech get a platform.

During an earlier hearing, the Supreme Court had also frowned upon the functioning of the National Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), observing that television channels in India are creating divisions in society since they are driven by agendas and compete to sensationalise news.

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