“Why petitioner Shaheen Abdullah from Kerala is blind to hate speeches close to his home? Why is he seeking to target one community in one particular state? If he is genuinely public spirited, he must bring on record all instances of hate speeches across the country, irrespective of religion and state,” Mehta said to a bench of Justices K M Joseph and B V Nagarathna.
This outpouring against selective circulation of hate speeches by Hindu organisations and completely veiling or glossing over of similar speeches by Muslim leaders and religious bodies had been attempted to be brought before the SC unsuccessfully by several organisations in the past.
The SG’s remarks came after the bench agreed to Abdullah’s counsel Mohd Nizamuddin Pasha‘s request for an urgent hearing on the contempt petition and posted it for hearing on Wednesday.
Citing a media report, Pasha said despite the SC’s February 3 order directing the Maharashtra police to take action against a Hindu organisation indulging in hate speech and calling for boycott of Mulsims, as many as 50 rallies have been organised in the last four months across the state.
“The nature of the speeches in all such rallies continues to be such that it demonises the Muslim community and calls for their killing and boycott. The complete inaction or inadequate action of the authorities results in encouraging radical elements to continue disregarding the law. The growing rate of these speeches is bringing a certain degree of normalisation to the same, which is bound to have extremely dangerous consequences,” Pasha warned.
When Justice Joseph asked how many FIRs have been registered by Maharashtra police on hate speech, the SG said as many as 18, and added, “Hate speech should be stopped irrespective of the religion of the maker. The point is that one cannot seek relief of such a nature based on news reports. Anyone can get news reports published.”
Justice Nagarathna said the SC cannot take note of contempt petitions for every violation of the hate speech guidelines. The SG said, “This issue is covered by the SC judgment in the Sakiri Vasu case. There are remedies available in law which may be availed. Otherwise, the SC would be flooded with thousands of petitions from across the country.”
SG requested the court to take up the issue after asking the petitioner to collate and place before the SC all hate speeches made by persons irrespective of religion across the country. But Justice Joseph, who retires on June 17, remained firm that the contempt petition would be heard on Wednesday.
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