Hate speech: Contempt charges if govt fails to act, says SCtext_fields
New Delhi: Making strong comments on the increasing number of hate speech incidents in the country, the Supreme Court chided the government on Friday, telling it to act on such incidents or face contempt charges, NDTV reported.
The court said, "This is the 21st century. Where have we reached in the name of religion? Contempt will be initiated if the authorities fail to act," NDTV quoted.
The court said that in a country that is supposed to be religiously neutral, the state of affairs was shocking.
It observed that the Indian Constitution envisages the country as a secular nation and fraternity among the citizens assuring individuals' dignity. "The unity and integrity of the nation are one of the guiding principles enshrined in the preamble," it said.
On Thursday, the court sought responses from the Union government and states after a plea requested an urgent intervention into the increased targeting and terrorising of the Muslim community in the country. On Friday, the court, citing the plea, said that no actions had been taken on multiple incidents of hate speech. The court is duty-bound to protect the fundamental rights of citizens, conserve the Constitution and maintain the rule of law.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Kapil Sibal cited before the court an example that "Hindu Sabha" and its BJP MP from West Delhi, Parvesh Varma, had called for the "total boycott" of "these people", a clear-cut reference to Muslims.
The comments by Jagat Guru Yogeshwar Acharya, who called for the slitting of throats of those who raise fingers against temples, were also read at the court.
The petitioner Shaheen Abdullah had sought the court to give directions so that the anti-terrorism law Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and other stringent provisions were invoked against those who commit hate crimes and hate speeches.
The hearing on hate speeches comes two days after the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres raised the issue of the increase in hate speeches in India. He said that the country, as an elected representative of the Human Rights Council, has a responsibility to shape global Human rights and promote the rights of all individuals, including minorities.