The Supreme Court on Friday ordered all states and Union Territories to register cases against instances of hate speech even if no complaint is filed, Live Law reported.

A bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna also ruled that any delay in filing such cases will be treated as contempt of court.

“We further make it clear that such action should be taken irrespective of the religion of the maker of the speech so that the secular character of Bharat [India] as envisaged in the preamble is preserved,” he said.

The judges were hearing a group of petitions seeking action against instances of hate speech. The order passed on Friday was an extension of the directions that the court had issued in October, asking the police in Delhi, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh to take action in cases of hate speech.

In March, the bench had observed that hate speech would end if politicians stop misusing religion. It also 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.

At Friday’s hearing, Justice KM Joseph observed that hate speech is capable of negatively affecting the secular fabric of the country.

“This is something which goes to the heart of our republic..about the dignity of people...” he said, according to Live Law.

The bench also said that the court has been entertaining petitions against hate speeches from different parts of the country for the larger public good and to ensure that there is a rule of law, reported NDTV.

“The judges are apolitical and not concerned with party A or party B,” it said. “The only thing they have in mind is the Constitution of India.”