The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Maharashtra government to respond to a contempt plea filed against it for failing to control hate speeches by rightwing organisations despite the orders of the top court.
A bench of Justice KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna posted the matter for hearing on April 28 and said, “Hate is a vicious circle and the State will have to initiate action.”
A contempt petition was filed by Kerala-based Shaheen Abdullah over a news report that said, “At least 50 rallies were held in the State in the last four months where hate speeches were allegedly made.”
Meanwhile, the apex court also allowed applications filed by Hindu Samaj citing incidents where hate speeches were made against Hindus.
During the hearing, Justice KM Joseph told the counsel of Hindu Samaj, “The most important thing is dignity. Some statements are made like go to Pakistan… they are actually the ones who had chosen this country. They are your brothers and sisters.”
“We were all handed down a legacy. What is tolerance? Tolerance is not putting up with somebody but accepting the differences…,” Justice Joseph said.
“If you want to become a superpower there has to be a rule of law,” Justice Joseph noted further.
Justice Nagarathna also expressed anguish over the hate speeches, saying, “All sides were making these statements and asked will the court now take contempt of court action against all Indians.”
Justice BV Nagarathna said, “Where are we going? We had orators like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. People from rural areas used to come to listen to them. Now, people who have no stuff are making these speeches.”
Justice Nagarathna said, “Now fringe elements from all sides making these statements and we are now going to take contempt of court action against all Indians? Intolerance comes from a lack of knowledge and education. How much contempt after contempt will we see? How will the Supreme Court deal with all this? Why cannot the citizens of this country take a pledge not to vilify others and what kind of pleasure are we deriving?”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also pointed out instances of hate speeches from Tamil Nadu, and Kerala and mentioned some statements of hate speeches against Hindus and Christians.
Mehta claimed that petitioner Abdullah is selective and should have brought before this court the hate speech made against Hindus and Christians in his state.
He referred to a video clip from a march organised by Popular Front of India (PFI) in Kerala wherein a young boy was heard chanting slogans against Hindus and Christians.
Mehta asked the bench to issue a notice to the Kerala government and seek its response.
The bench, however, did not pass any order on the issue.
During the hearing in the case, Justice Nagarathna said, “We are sorry to say that cracks are now coming in the sense of fraternity.”
“The moment politics and religion are segregated, all this will stop,” noted Justice Joseph.