SC Directs All States, UTs To Take Suo Moto Action Against Hate Speech Irrespective Of Religion

    The Hawk
    April28/ 2023


    New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday directed all states and union territories to ensure that as and when any hate speech is made, they shall take suo moto action for registration of FIR even without any complaints.
    A bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna made it clear that such action shall be taken irrespective of the religion of the persons who made the speech, so that the secular character of Bharat as envisaged by the Preamble is preserved.
    The bench said that any hesitation to take action on hate speech would be viewed as contempt of court. "Respondents shall ensure that immediately, as and when any speech or any action takes place which attracts offences such as Section 153A, 153B, 295A and 506 of IPC etc, without any complaint being filed, suo motu action be taken to register cases and proceed against the offenders in accordance with law," the bench stated in its order.
    It further added, "We further make it clear that such action be taken irrespective of the religion of the maker of the speech, so that the secular character of Bharat as envisaged by the Preamble is preserved."
    The apex court was hearing a batch of pleas seeking direction to curb hate speeches. It has now posted the cases for hearing on May 12.
    The bench now extended its October 21, 2022 order, which was applicable to the Delhi, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh governments, to all the States and Union Territories.
    During the hearing, the bench made it clear that in its previous order it did not direct that action should be taken against any particular community but action should be taken irrespective of the religion.
    As one of the petitioners said that hate speech is a pan-India issue, Justice Joseph said, "When you say pan-India issues, I don't know if you have hate speech problem in North-East, at least not that I know. So we don't know if it is pan-India or it is in some areas for special reasons. We only had public good in mind when we passed the order for suo motu action against hate speech. That it should not go out of hand." The bench opined that hate speech is an offence "affecting the fabric of the nation".
    As counsels pointed out instances of hate speech in West Bengal and Bihar, Justice Joseph said, "We want to say something. Both of us (judges in the bench) are apolitical. We don't care about party A or party B. We are only on Constitution."
    "Don't bring politics. If attempt is to bring in politics, we won't be a party to this... we have said, irrespective of religion, action should be taken," the bench added. —ANI