The Supreme Court on Friday directed all states and union territories(UTs) to register cases against those making hate speeches even without any complaint, terming these speeches as a ‘serious offence’ capable of affecting the secular fabric of the country.
Extending the scope of its 2022 order beyond three states, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Uttarakhand, an SC bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna also made it clear to authorities that any hesitation to act will be viewed as contempt of the top court and appropriate action will be taken against the erring officers.
In October, against the backdrop of cases where alleged hate speeches were made, the top court asked the police chiefs of Delhi, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh to filesuo motucases. Now it has extended the decision across India.
This is being seen as the first real step taken in India against hate speech.
Political will, cognizance and enforcement of the law on the ground is another matter.
On March 29, the top court had pointed out that it is hearing the contempt petition for non-compliance of its orders saying, ‘We are hearing the contempt petition because states are not taking action in time. This is because the state has become impotent, powerless and does not act in time. Why should we have a state at all if it is silent?’
Terming hate speeches a ‘vicious circle,’ the top court said it had taken serious exception to them, saying these will end the moment politics and religion are separated and politicians stop using religion in politics, which causes fringe elements to take advantage to further their divisive agendas.
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