Hate Speech| Supreme Court directs all States/UTs to register suo moto FIRs

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Recently, the Supreme Court had lamented that the statements of hate speech put before it were very disturbing, especially for a country which is a democracy.

With reference to its order passed in October last year, wherein it had directed the Police authorities in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and UT of Delhi NCR to take suo moto action against those indulging in hate speeches, the Supreme Court yesterday direct all the States and Union Territories across the country to do the same.

A bench of Justices KM Jospeh and BV Nagarathna has added that action should be take regardless the religion of the maker of such speech, and not doing the same would amount to contempt, court has warned.

"Respondent states will issue directions to the subordinates so that appropriate action can be taken at the earliest. We further make it clear that such action shall 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 Top Court has further ordered.

Notably, the earlier order of October 2022 was passed by the Supreme Court in a plea that sought urgent intervention by the Court to stop the growing menace of targeting and terrorizing the Muslim community in India. Filed by one Shaheen Abdulla, the plea also sought initiation of action under UAPA against persons engaging in hate speech against Muslims.

Last month, Justice KM Joseph had remarked that the state was impotent as it was not acting in time over the issue of curbing hate speeches across the country. "Why do we have a State at all if it is remaining silent?", the judge remarked while hearing a a petition seeking contempt action against authorities in the State of Maharashtra over their alleged failure to act against hate speeches during rallies.

In the same case, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had told the Supreme Court that the petitioner was being selective in highlighting cases.


SG Mehta referred to the petitioner's "noble service" and said that this public spirited man is not bringing instances from his own state(Kerala) before the court.

Court was further told that it should not consider cases of hate speeches only arising in Maharashtra but should also look at similar instances in States like Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

In this regard, SG had specifically highlighted hate speech against Hindus in Kerala and asked why the Court had not take suo motu cognizance of the same.