Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Supreme Court directs Sakal Hindu Samaj to sign undertaking of no hate speech during February 5 meeting

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The Supreme Court directed the Sakal Hindu Samaj on Friday to sign an undertaking that in case it got permission to go ahead with its scheduled February 5 meeting, the participants would neither indulge in hate speech, nor create any law and order problem during the event.

The undertaking was signed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta before the Bench of Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice J.B. Pardiwala.

The Apex Court directed the SG to ensure that the event organisers and participants duly followed the rules and regulations. 

It further issued directions to the police inspector of the area for videography of the meeting, stating that the contents of the video should be made available to this Court.

A petition was filed in the Apex Court by one Shaheen Abdullah, seeking ban on the February 5 meeting of the Sakal Hindu Samaj on the grounds that during the ‘Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha’ held by the organisation in Mumbai on January 29, people had indulged in anti-Muslim hate speech. 

Apprehending a repeat of similar incidents, Shaheen sought intervention of the Supreme Court to stop the meeting.

Representing the petitioner, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal submitted that police should invoke Section 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which gave power to the police to arrest persons for prevention of cognisable offences, having regard to the events that took place in the previous meeting.

The top court of the country then directed the Maharashtra Police that in case the situation went out of control, police had the power to invoke Section 151 of the CrPC, and arrest the trouble-makers.

The Bench further directed the Solicitor General to get instructions from the State of Maharashtra on allegations made by the petitioner regarding the January 29 meeting of the organisation.

The SG alleged that the petitioner was ‘selectively’ taking up causes, thus abusing an august forum.

Mehta contended that he failed to understand the concern of the Kerala-based petitioner about an event proposed in Maharashtra.

He said the Apex Court cannot be allowed to be converted into an authority which grants permissions for meetings.

Assuring action against those indulging in hate speech, the SG opposed the demand to stop the event, stating that it would amount to ‘pre-speech censorship’.

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