SC issues directive against hate speeches

The Supreme Court’s latest direction on hate speeches is a welcome development at a time when the country is being torn apart by the politics of polarisation. The court has directed all States and Union Territories to register cases against those making hate speeches without waiting for a formal complaint to be filed. The peddlers of hatred are a big threat to the country’s secular fabric. The much-touted slogan of the NDA government “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” will be meaningless if such divisive elements are not reined in. Fostering peaceful coexistence of the diverse sects and sections of society is crucial for India’s image globally as its voice gains credence in diplomatic and geopolitical affairs. The administrative bias against minorities on one hand and the spread of prejudice, through social media platforms, on the other is vitiating the atmosphere.

 This should not be allowed to continue. The judicial intervention at the highest level will, hopefully, nudge authorities to effectively enforce the law against propagation of hate. The court has now asked the governments to take up suo motu action and register cases even if no complaint is forthcoming and proceed against the offenders under Sections 153A, 153B and 295A and 505 of the IPC.

Going a step further, the SC made it clear that any hesitation to act in accordance with this direction will be viewed as contempt of court and appropriate action will be taken against the errant officers. The court’s direction that contempt action could be initiated against officials for not taking action against hate speech is indeed a welcome move. This rap should prompt the law enforcers to punish the guilty promptly and, thereby, send a strong message of deterrence. Of late, the Hindutva-inspired rhetoric of intolerance has deepened divisions in society.