Supreme Court, Manipur
On August 1, the top court said there was a complete breakdown of law and order and constitutional machinery in Manipur | File photo

SC slams states on hate speeches: 'This is 21st century. What have we reduced God to?'

Holding that the Constitution of India envisages a secular nation, the Supreme Court on Friday directed Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments to come down hard on hate speeches, promptly registering criminal cases against the culprits without waiting for a complaint to be filed.

The apex court warned any delay on the part of the administration in taking action on this “very serious issue” will invite the courts contempt.

Hearing a petition on hate speeches, the bench said, “This is the 21st century. What have we reduced God to? Article 51 says we should have a scientific temper and in the name of religion, this is tragic.”

Also read: Hate speeches sullying country’s atmosphere: Supreme Court

Disturbing statements

The apex court said such statements (hate speech) are disturbing, especially for a country that is democratic and religion-neutral.

“The Constitution of India envisages a secular nation and fraternity among citizens assuring the dignity of the individual…The unity and integrity of the nation is one of the guiding principles enshrined in the preamble.

“There cannot be fraternity unless the members of the community from different religions are able to live in harmony. The petitioner points out despite various penal provisions, no action has been taken and there is a need to serve constitutional principles. We feel this court is charged with a duty to protect the fundamental rights and also protect and serve the constitution where the rule of law is maintained,” the top court said.

Notices to UP, Delhi, Uttarakhand govts

A bench of Justices K M Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy also issued notices to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand on the petition filed by journalist Shaheen Abdullah.

The court said action must be taken against those making hate speeches irrespective of their religion to preserve the secular fabric of the nation.

‘Take suo motu action’

“Respondents 2-4 (the three states) will file a response as to what action has been taken for the speeches highlighted. They shall ensure that as and when any (hate) speech or action takes place without any complaint being filed, suo motu action is taken in such cases in future without waiting for complaints.

“Respondents will issue directions to their subordinates for appropriate action and such action will be taken irrespective of religion against the person who delivers such hate speech so that the secular character of this country as envisaged in the preamble is maintained,” it said.

Also read: Delhi’s Sunder Nagri locals bear brunt of gruesome murder, religious hate speech

Abdullah has moved the top court also seeking direction to the Centre and states to initiate independent, credible and impartial probe into the incidents of hate crimes and hate speeches across the country.

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