Supreme Court Adjourns Pleas Against Hate Speech To August After Solicitor General Terms Them 'Selective Litigation'
The Supreme Court today adjourned a batch of petitions seeking action against hate speech in some parts of the country, to second week of August. The Court also adjourned a contempt petition filed in the context of alleged incidents of hate speech from Maharashtra.
A Bench of Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice Aravind Kumar ordered that petitioner may file rejoinder affidavit and adjourned the matter to the second week of August.
At the outset, Advocate Nizam Pasha for the petitioner pointed out certain discrepancies in the FIRs that the state of Maharashtra claimed to have registered for hate speeches.
The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta responded by saying, "You file a rejoinder. How do I respond to your oral assertions? The petitioner staying in Delhi is disputing something orally about some event in Maharashtra". He added that whatever document needs to be supplied will be supplied.
When the Senior Counsel for PUCL started submitting that hate speeches are continuing, the SG said, "These last days, we shouldn't be troubling your lordships", referring to the impending summer vacations. "File FIRs or go to Magistrate. This is not a Magistrate's Court", the SG added.
Justice Joseph then said that the cases of hate speech have "toned down" compared to earlier.
"They were selectively bringing before your lordships. Neither it has increased, nor it has decreased", Tushar Mehta responded.
Dont be selective. That is all that I am saying, the SG said when he asked to let the petitioners argue.
When the Senior Counsel for PUCL pointed out incident of alleged hate speech from Maharashtra, pointing out that PUCL was being selective, the SG said, "Other states are peaceful, there are no hate speeches. Other communities there are no hate speeches".
When PUCL referred to suggestions that the Court wanted, the SG said, "Court never wanted, you were eager to give suggestions. You can give suggestions. Court never wants suggestions, Court issues directions, I am sorry".
When the petitioner contended that no action has allegedly been taken against perpetrators, the SG said, "No notice issued. Let them go to Magistrate. There is a system of law in place".
He also said, "This is not a court of Magistrate. There is a law in place if there is violation of law, there is a system in place". "These are selective litigations", the SG said opposing any earlier posting.
The Court then adjourned the matter to August. Justice KM Joseph will retire on June 16 this year.
On the last occasion (April 28, 2023), the Court had directed the Respondents to issue suitable directions to their subordinates to make sure that an appropriate legal action is taken. Further made it clear than any hesitation would tantamount to contempt.
"We further make it clear that such action will be taken irrespective of the religion that the maker of the speech or the person who commits such act may profess, so that the secular character of India, that is, Bharat as is envisaged by the Preamble, is preserved and protected", the bench had further added.
Previously, when the Solicitor General pointed out the instances of alleged hate speech against Brahmins by DMK leader, Justice KM Joseph smiled and the SG retorted by saying that it is not a matter to be laughed at.
When the SG mentioned the video of a child in a PFI rally in Kerala raising slogans calling for preparation for the last rites of Hindus and Christians, Justice Joseph said that he was aware of the video. "Then your lordship should have taken Suo Motu cognisance", said the SG to Justice Joseph who hails from Kerala.
The lawyer representing the petitioner objected to the submission, stating that the SG is engaging in "whataboutery". When Justice Joseph was not willing to respond further on the incident from Kerala, the SG persisted by asking, why the Court is "shying away from looking at the clip".
When Justice Joseph said that the SG may include the clip in the Center's submission, the SG responded by saying that the Bench should not be "selective" and that the clip is in the public domain.
Advocate Vishnu Jain had then pointed out instances of "Sar Tan se Juda" slogans raised in different parts of the Country. Justice Joseph then said that every action has an opposite reaction. Solicitor General objected to the remark and said that saying so will be a justification of the hate speech. The SG then persisted by referring to the clip from Kerala and asking why the petitioners should not incorporate this in their petition. Justice Joseph reacted by saying, "Let Mr. Jain fight his own case".
Cause Title: Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union Of India And Ors.