Hate speech: Supreme Court pulls up Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh governments
The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the BJP-led Uttarakhand government to ensure Roorkee's upcoming "Dharam Sansad" doesn't turn into a "hate fest" targeting Muslims. It directed Uttarakhand's Chief Secretary to assure that "no hate speeches are made" at the religious conclave on Wednesday, questioning the top official about preventive measures. The SC separately criticized the BJP-led Himachal Pradesh government, too, over hate speech incidents.
- The Supreme Court's order to Uttarakhand authorities comes months after a similar Dharam Sansad in the state's Haridwar witnessed hate speeches against Muslims, including calls for their genocide, back in December.
- Notably, one of the event's participants, priest Yati Narsinghanand, violated his bail conditions at a "religious conclave" in Himachal Pradesh's Una this month, by asking Hindus to pick up arms and target Muslims.
"If hate speech is not stopped...[Uttarakhand] Chief Secretary will be held responsible. We will summon the Chief Secretary to the court," the SC told Uttarakhand's Additional Advocate General. It asked the CS to state on record that no "untoward statement" will be made at the event. "Follow the Supreme Court's guidelines regarding hate speech. Take all steps necessary to stop hate speech," it added.
The Supreme Court also admonished the Uttarakhand government's lawyer for his arguments. According to NDTV, he argued, "The community that [senior advocate Kapil] Sibal [representing the petitioner who had asked for a ban on the upcoming event] is supporting is also doing some things." In response, Justice AM Khanwilkar stated, "What are these arguments? This is not the way to argue in court."
Earlier this month, the SC sought a status report from the Uttarakhand government on the investigation into alleged hate speeches made at Haridwar's December "Dharam Sansad." However, the state government is reportedly yet to submit it to the top court. It had also requested more time to respond to petitions in the case, despite receiving a notice from the apex court in January.
In a separate hearing, the SC grilled Himachal Pradesh's government about an event earlier this month that saw hate speeches against Muslims and urged Hindus to turn to violence. "The government has to stop such activity. [It] will have to let us know whether any preventive measures were taken," it stated, asking the BJP-led state government why immediate action wasn't taken in the matter.
"These events do not happen suddenly. They don't happen overnight. These are announced in advance. Why didn't you act right away? There are...guidelines of the Supreme Court," the SC told HP's government. "The government should file an affidavit by May 7 and let us know what steps were taken to prevent such incidents," it said, adding the case would be heard on May 9.