The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Uttarakhand government to ensure that no hate speech is delivered at a “dharam sansad”, or religious conclave, scheduled to be held in the state’s Roorkee city on Wednesday, Live Law reported.
A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Abhay Sreeniwas Oka and CT Ravikumar pulled up the Uttarakhand government for submitting to the court that it could not stop such events, or anticipate the kind of speeches that would be made there.
“But if it is by the same [accused] person, then you have to prevent it,” Justice Khanwilkar told the Deputy Advocate General of Uttarakhand Jatinder Kumar Sethi, according to Bar and Bench. “Don’t make us say things.”
He added that the state government has a duty to take preventive steps to ensure such incidents do not take place occasionally. The judges warned that the Uttarakhand chief secretary will be held responsible if “any untoward situation” arises at the religious conclave on Wednesday.
“We are putting it on record,” the Supreme Court said, Live Law reported. “You know what are the preventive measures to be taken. Don’t make us say again and again.”
The court also asked the Uttarakhand government to file an affidavit about the preventive measures taken by officials ahead of the event.
The court’s directive came against the backdrop of the communal violence that erupted in Roorkee on April 16 during a Hanuman Jayanti procession. Several Muslim residents have fled from the Bhagwanpur region after Hindutva leaders warned of “action against conspirators”, The Wire reported.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court judges were hearing a petition seeking action against the speakers who delivered speeches targeting Muslims in similar “dharam sansad” events held in Haridwar and Delhi.
At the religious parliament held in Haridwar between December 17 and December 19, Hindutva supremacists had called upon Hindus to buy weapons to commit genocide against Muslims.
Yati Narsinghanand, an extremist priest known for his hate speech, had said that an “economic boycott” of Muslims was not enough. “No community can survive without picking up weapons...And swords won’t work, they look good only on stages,” he had said.
In the Delhi event, also held in December, videos showed journalist Suresh Chavhanke administering an oath to the attendees to “die for and kill” to make India a Hindu nation.
In their applications, the petitioners pointed out that similar gatherings were being organised in other cities too.
“They are holding it all over the country,” Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal told the court at Tuesday’s hearing. “Now this was in Una [in Himachal Pradesh]. We wrote to the collector and superintendent of police to stop it and they did not do anything.”
However, the Himachal Pradesh counsel told the court that the state government had taken action.
“These incidents don’t happen suddenly,” Justice Khanwilkar said in response. “They are announced well in advance. The local police has to get into action immediately...Did you spring into action immediately or not?”
The court asked the state to file an affidavit and said it will take up the matter on May 9.
In the Himachal Pradesh gathering on April 17, Narsinghanand had asked Hindus to have more children to make sure India does not become an Islamic country.
The priest was arrested in December in the Haridwar hate speech case and received bail on February 7, on the condition that he could not be a part of any gathering “which aims towards creating difference between communities”.
The Himachal Pradesh Police had issued a notice to Narshinghanand, asking him to not use instigating language against any religion or caste at the religious conclave. The station house officer of the Amb police station in Una district had warned him that appropriate legal action would be taken if their instructions were not followed.