Make preventive arrests to stop hate speeches, if needed: Supreme Court to Maharashtra government

The court also directed the police inspector of the area to video-record the meeting and make the recording available to the court on the next date of hearing.


THE Supreme Court on Friday directed the Maharashtra Government to make arrests, if needed, to prevent hate speeches at a rally by an entity called the ‘Sakal Hindu Samaj’ scheduled to be held on February 5 in Mumbai. It also directed the police inspector of the area to video-record the meeting in question and make the same available to the court on the next date of hearing.

A division bench comprising Justices K.M. Joseph and J.B. Pardiwala passed the order after hearing an application filed by one Shaheen Abdulla seeking to prohibit the proposed rally. The bench emphasised that in a secular State, hate speech should not be allowed.

The bench recorded the submission of Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta that if Sakal Hindu Samaj seeks permission to holding the meeting on February 5 and the permission is granted, it will be subject to the condition that nobody indulges in hate speech in defiance of law or to disturb public order.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, for the applicant, urged the court to direct the state to invoke Section 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which provides for arrest to prevent the commission of cognisable offences. He referred to the earlier rally by the same organisation held on January 29, where hate speeches were allegedly made.

The bench, thus, directed that “in case, permission is granted and, in case, the occasion arises for invoking the power under Section 151 of Cr.P.C. as aforesaid, it shall be the duty of the Officer(s) concerned to invoke the said power and to act as per the mandate of Section 151 of the Cr.P.C.”

In October last year, the Supreme Court had directed the Delhi Police Commissioner, and the director generals of police of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to take suo motu cognisance of instances of hate speech. The court had also warned that officers would face contempt of court proceedings if they fail to act against hate speech offenders.

We feel that this Court is charged with the duty to protect  fundamental rights, and also preserve constitutional values and the secular, democratic character of the nation, in particular, the rule of law,” the division bench comprising Justices and Hrishikesh Roy had observed.

Emphasising the importance of fraternity, the bench had said, “There cannot be fraternity unless members of community drawn from different religions or castes of the country are able to live in harmony. The petitioners point out that there are appropriate provisions [to deal with people who try to disturb communal harmony and public order and indulge in hate speech] such as Sections 153A153B505, and 295A of the Indian Penal Code. He voices his concern that no action has been taken even after this Court has been approached in the matter and the transgressions have only increased.”

Click here to view the Supreme Court’s full order.