The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that abjuring hate speech is essential to maintain communal harmony in the country, Live Law reported.

A bench comprising Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna was hearing a group of petitions seeking action against instances of hate speech.

Advocate Nizam Pasha, appearing for one of the petitioners, noted that the Supreme Court had in October said that government should take action on its own against hate speech without waiting for a complaint.

Pasha referred to an article in The Indian Express stating that 50 rallies took place in Maharashtra in four months in which conspiracy theories such as “love jihad” and “land jihad” were discussed. “One hate speech conclave every two days,” he said. “This is only in Maharashtra.”

Scroll had also reported that in nearly all such rallies, speakers have called for violence against Muslims or floated conspiracy theories about the community.

However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta questioned why the petitioner approached the Supreme Court only on the basis of media reports.

Justice Joseph remarked that when the Supreme Court passed the directives, it was aware of the situation in the country. “If there is an order of this court, we passed it on a certain understanding of what is happening in the country,” he said. “We understand what is happening, the fact that we are keeping silent should not be misunderstood.”

Justice Joseph said that Mehta had earlier acknowledged that the matter went to the heart of the country’s democracy. “Don’t you think as the solicitor general of this country that for maintenance of communal harmony abjuring hate speech is fundamental requisite?” he asked, according to Live Law.

The solicitor general said that if the judges wished to monitor investigations into hate speech cases, he would file a report to better assist the court.

The Supreme Court will hear the case again tomorrow.

Also read: Can the Supreme Court fix India’s hate speech problem?