28 April: The Supreme Court of India on Friday directed police in all states and union territories to take suo motu action against hate speech and communal incitement, terming them as ‘serious offences’ that could affect the secular fabric of the country. The apex court also warned that it would initiate contempt proceedings against any state that fails to comply with its order.
A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta issued the directions while hearing a plea by an NGO seeking action against hate speech by politicians and media persons during the recent assembly elections in five states. The plea alleged that several instances of inflammatory remarks were made by leaders of various parties, which violated the model code of conduct and the Representation of People Act.
The bench observed that hate speech was not only a violation of fundamental rights but also a threat to national security and social harmony. It said that police should act promptly and impartially against anyone indulging in such acts, irrespective of their position or affiliation. It also asked the Election Commission to monitor the situation and take appropriate measures to ensure free and fair polls.
The court said that it would monitor the implementation of its order and sought periodic reports from all states and UTs on the action taken by them against hate speech.