Hate speech would end if politicians stop misusing religion, says Supreme Court
Justice KM Joseph observed that the state was ‘powerless’ and does not act on time against hate speech.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that hate speech would end if politicians stop misusing religion, reported PTI.
“Major problem arises when politicians are mixing politics with religion,” the court said. “The moment politics and religion are segregated, this will end. When politicians stop using religion, all this will stop. We have said in our recent verdict also that mixing politics with religion is dangerous for democracy.”
A bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna made the comments while hearing a group of petitions seeking action against instances of hate speech.
On Tuesday, The court observed that abjuring hate speech is essential to maintain communal harmony in the country. Advocate Nizam Pasha, appearing for one of the petitioners, had 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.
Scroll had also reported that in nearly all such rallies, speakers have called for violence against Muslims or floated conspiracy theories about the community.
At Wednesday’s hearing, the court was considering Pasha’s application seeking contempt action against authorities in Maharashtra for failing to take action against the rallies.
Pasha told the court that his contempt petition was not religion specific. On the importance of curbing hate speech, he quoted United Nations Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention Adama Dieng: “The Holocaust did not start with the gas chambers. It started with hate speech.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta questioned the credibility of the petitioner, alleging that he was being selective in seeking action.
Mehta said that if the petitioner was concerned about hate speech, he should seek action against all such instances, pointing to alleged hateful comments made against Hindus in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, reported Bar and Bench.
“We have also found some statements which should be added to this petition,” Mehta said. “Leader of DMK [Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam] party says that if you want equality you should butcher all the Brahmins....Please hear this clip from Kerala. This is shocking. It should shock the conscience of this court. A child has been made to say this. We should be embarrassed. He says ‘Hindus and Christians should prepare for final rites’.”
Pasha then interjected saying that it does not befit the solicitor general to indulge in “whataboutery”.
Meanwhile, the court called hate speech a “vicious circle” and said that such utterings are being made by fringe elements and that people should restrain themselves from doing so.
It also expressed concern over the failure of authorities to take prompt action against instances of hate speech, reported Live Law.
“State is impotent, state is powerless; it does not act in time,” Justice Joseph said. “Why do we have a state at all if it is remaining silent?”