PIL Regarding Rise in Hate Speech Filed in SC, Remarked ‘Such Instances Only Sully Atmosphere, Need to Be Repressed’

Supreme Court Law Insider

Aastha Thakur

Published on: 11 October 2022 at 10:09 IST

The apex court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed against the rise in hate speech against minorities in country. The bench led by CJI UU Lalit and Justice Ravindra Bhat, observing the situation, expressed their concern towards hate speech, which is only darkening the atmosphere of the nation.

The court emphasises that this needs to be checked for the larger interest of the public. However, the bench insisted the petitioner mention certain incidents of hate speech instead of giving a baseless rundown of the problem.

The petitioner’s counsel, Advocate Harpreet Mansukhani, submits that in order to understand the grave nature of the case, it’s essential to simply understand the fact that hate speech is targeted at a particular community on the basis of their gender, religion, and so on. The counsel states that – “In the petition, in the synopsis, I have mentioned that the intentional motive here was to commit hate crimes with a weapon called hate speech to target and jail the minority communities, to win the majority of Hindu votes, to grab power at all posts, to commit genocide and make India a Hindu Rashtra before 2024 elections.”

“With heavy heart I have to say, to give effect to this vicious and malicious plan, the respondents mentioned in the petition killed common people from the minority…72 hate speeches mentioned in the petition, the hate speech delivered at the Dharam Sansad and the hate speech mentioned in Kashmir Files cannot be taken as isolated cases but grave conspiracies. “

The bench also stated that such hate speech has been turned into a “profitable business“. The petitioner’s counsel submits that the governing party in the centre supported the “The Kashmir Files” movie and exempted it from any tax.

Referring to hate speech as something which has been turned into a “profitable business”, the petitioner said that the ruling party supported the “The Kashmir Files” movie and made it tax-free. The counsel remarked such hate speech as habitual in nature, and she said –

“The representation of hate speech has been mentioned earlier by many lawyers, 76 lawyers, to the ex-CJI Ramana to take suo moto cognizance and investigate action against targeting of Muslim community. Yet there has been no action. Service chiefs, army veterans, retired bureaucrats and citizens had written a letter to the Prime Minister and the ex-president on 2 January 2022 speaking of harms of participating in genocide but there was no response.”

“On 1 September 2022, while hearing a matter on attack on MPs in Haryana, UP, MP, Karnataka and many other places, the Honourable Justice Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli gave two months to seek status report. They said that they had earlier laid down guidelines in the Tehseen Poonawalla order.

Earlier, CJI Lalit, while seeking details on such incidents, remarked orally that –

We don’t even know what are the details of those particular crimes, what is the status, what is your say, who are the persons involved, whether any crime was registered not registered etc. You may be right, perhaps, in saying that the entire atmosphere is being sullied as a result of hate speeches.”

“Perhaps you have every justifiable grounds to say that this needs to be curbed. But this kind of ominous petition under Article 32 cannot be. According to us, if you can have assistance of a senior counsel of this court as amicus, then we can see.

The counsel, while emphasising her point regarding hate speech, submitted that earlier in the petition filed by her, Justice Ranjan Gogoi gave orders that during elections, hate speech should not be allowed. Mr. Yogi Adityanath and Ms. Mayawati, were restrained from speaking ill-motivated, religiously fueled hatred speech, and the election commission also assured that an FIR would be filed against such offenses.

She does, however, want to draw the court’s attention towards recent instances when the senior leaders have been alleged to have committed several hate crimes and have even admitted to brutally killing minorities. She even summed it up in a statement—“Every time hate speech is done, it is like an arrow that never returns.”

The bench, however, was not happy with her submission and was uncertain. The court stated once more that –

What happens is for a court to take cognizance of certain things, there must be factual background. You may concentrate on maybe a case or two. Something or the other in form of petition, in one of the cases by way of sample that you can give.”

This is too random a petition saying that there are 58 instances where someone made a hate speech. Rather than giving us a vague idea, you concentrate on immediate instances.

The PIL is adjourned for now and the next hearing will take place on October 31st.

CASE TITLE: Harpreet Mansukhani v UOI W.P.(Crl.) No. 89/2022

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