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Supreme Court directs police to initiate suo motu action against anyone indulging in hate speech

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The Supreme Court on Friday directed the police department in the states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to take suo motu action against any person indulging in hate speech, irrespective of caste, and without waiting for lodging of a formal complaint.

The Bench of Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice Hrishikesh Roy made these observations, while hearing a petition against hate speech.

The Apex Court, while observing that there cannot be fraternity in the country unless different religious communities were ready to live in harmony, sought report from the police chiefs of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand on what steps or action has been taken so far in such cases. 

While issuing a slew of directions on the matter, the Bench ruled that strict action was needed to preserve the secular character of the country.

It further warned the police that lack of action by them would result in the contempt of court

The Court also sought action taken report from Delhi police on the alleged hate speeches made by BJP MP Parvesh Verma and others in the national capital on October 9 against Muslim community. 

While stating noting that India was a secular and religion neutral country, where all persons had the freedom of expression, the Supreme Court remarked, what the God has been reduced to.

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Appearing for the petitioner, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal said many complaints had been filed in this regard, but neither the Court, nor administration ever took any action. Instead, they sought  status reports in the matter.
The Counsel alleged that some BJP leaders were participating in such events on a daily basis. He quoted a BJP leader as allegedly saying that they will not purchase anything from the shops belonging to minority people, and will also not give them a job.
The Bench noted that the statements were very disturbing and asked Sibal whether Muslims were also indulging in a similar manner. Sibal replied that if at all they were making hate speeches, they would not have been spared.
Stating that silence was certainly not an answer on part of either the Court or the country,  Sibal demanded setting up of an SIT to make sure that such incidents were not repeated in future.

The Bench then cited Article 21 and noted that it talked about scientific temper. The top court of the country said, “This is the 21st century. Where have we reached in the name of religion?” 

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The petition was filed by Shaheen Abdullah, seeking directions to the Centre and states to initiate an independent, credible and impartial probe into the incidents of hate crimes and hate speeches across the country.

The plea further sought invoking the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and other stringent provisions to curb hate crimes and hate speeches.

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