SC rejects halting Yavatmal, Raipur events; warns against hate speech
The court considered a plea to halt events organized by the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti in Yavatmal and by BJP MLA Raja Singh in Raipur.
In New Delhi, on Wednesday, the Supreme Court instructed the administrations of Raipur in Chhattisgarh and Yavatmal in Maharashtra to exercise caution and prevent any instigation of violence or hate speech before two events organized by the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and BJP legislator T Raja Singh.
The Court mandated the district administrations to implement necessary measures, such as installing CCTV cameras at rally venues, to identify individuals delivering hate speeches.
“We emphasize that authorities must ensure no incitement for violence or hate speech is allowed,” stated a bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta.
The bench also directed, “Police will install CCTV cameras with recording capability to facilitate identification and booking of perpetrators in case of any incidents.”
The Court addressed an application by Shaheen Abdullah, seeking orders to halt the event organized by the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti in Yavatmal on January 18 and a series of rallies by BJP MLA Raja Singh in Raipur from January 19 to 25.
The application presented previous speeches by Singh and instances from Samiti events openly encouraging violence against a specific community.
The court also instructed the district magistrate and superintendent of police in Yavatmal and Raipur to acknowledge the allegations and take necessary action as recommended and needed.
Observing that some of Singh’s past speeches were “undoubtedly objectionable,” the court emphasized that no proactive measures could be taken for his upcoming speeches.
“Undoubtedly, the statements are objectionable… considering the claims made, we instruct the district magistrate and superintendent of police in Yavatmal and Raipur to acknowledge the allegations and take necessary action as recommended and required,” stated the bench.
“The court stated, ‘Police will install CCTV cameras with recording capability so that if any incidents occur, the perpetrators can be prosecuted.'”
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the applicant along with advocate Nizam Pasha, highlighted that Singh and the Samiti are “repeat offenders” who have delivered similar speeches at various events across several states without facing preventive action.
The application aimed to revoke permission for the two events based on their past conduct.
However, the bench declined to issue any restraining order against the program, stating that neither the Samiti nor the BJP legislator was a party in the application or the petition seeking restrictions on hate speeches.
“There cannot be preemptive orders issued. It is for the concerned government in the state to decide on any action against him,” the bench informed Sibal.
The Court highlighted that last year in Haryana’s Nuh district, when similar hate speech allegations arose, orders were issued to authorities for installing CCTVs and recording speeches to ensure effective implementation of the court’s earlier directives.
“Guidelines exist, but we aim to reinforce them. There was a time when our orders (related to Nuh violence) had an impact, and hate speeches did cease,” stated the bench.
Abdullah’s application stated, “All speeches delivered by the said speaker (Singh) under the pretext of establishing a Hindu Rashtra invariably involve the vilification, calls for violence against, and boycott of Muslims.” The most recent alleged hate speech by Raja took place in Solapur on January 6.
The accusation asserted that the Samiti organizes events featuring speeches “openly demonizing Muslims and calling for their boycott” and operates a website that disparages and vilifies minorities. It lamented the lack of police action against them.
“Instead of taking action against repeat offenders, authorities not only refrain from preventing them from organizing further rallies but also allow them to deliver hate speeches with impunity, despite specific court directives to the contrary.”
The Supreme Court has mandated authorities to initiate criminal cases against individuals engaging in hate speeches without waiting for a formal complaint.
In 2018, the Supreme Court instructed states and union territories to appoint nodal officers responsible for preventing hate crimes and registering offenses.