Law exists to deal with those giving hate speeches, says SC
New Delhi – The Supreme Court Friday said it could not issue directions to restrain the people from making inflammatory speeches preaching hatred as there are statutory remedies to deal with such offenders.
“When the remedy is provided in the statute, where is the need for direction?” asked a bench of Justice B.S.Chauhan and Justice S.A.Bobde as senior counsel Basava Patil urged the court to pass direction to take care of vacuum in law which is taken advantage of by such people.
“If you take recourse to legal remedies and don’t get relief, then you can come to us,” Justice Bobde told the petitioner, driving the point that the apex court could not issue direction in the area when legal remedies exist to deal with offences.
Basava Patil appeared for NGO Pravasi Bhalai Sangathan which has sought directions to curb leaders who make! hate and derogatory speeches exploiting caste, religious, regional and! ethnic identities of the people.
“You tell us where we can issue direction (where there is no statutory remedy). Even if we issue direction, how it can be enforced? Can such directions be issued?” Justice Chauhan asked Basava Patil.
“You give us a draft judgment that is enforceable in law. We will take it,” Justice Chauhan told Patil and asked him: “You find out which is the offence that is not covered by Code of Criminal Procedure. We will request parliament to enact the law.”
Asking the petitioner to go to parliament, the court said: “Unless we educate masses, nothing will happen. It is the same people who vote for them (leaders who make hate speeches).”
At the outset of the hearing, the court gave vent to its frustration with these kind of PILs when it told the Pravasi Bhalai Sangathan that it has reduced the highest court to a mockery.
“You have reduced entire system to a mockery. This is the highest court,” Justice Chauhan observed a! dmonishingly and pointed out: “You don’t give chance to common people… to (come to) the court. It is occupied by some people only.”
Pravasi Bhalai Sangathan in its petition contended that numerous hate and derogatory speeches made by the elected representatives, political and religious leaders on caste, religion, region and ethnic lines were violative of various Articles.
It said the Constitution’s Article 14 (Equality before law), Article 15 (Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste or place of birth), Article 16 (Equality in matter of public appointments), Article 19 (Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech), and Article 21 (Protection of life and liberty) read with the Directive Principles of State Policy were being violated.
It referred to the hate speeches by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Akbaruddin Owaisi, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s international wo! rking president Praveen Togadia.
The NGO’s PIL said that the utt! erances of these leaders were destroying the fabtric of democracy, unity and integrity of the country.
“It is very important to have guidelines to curb hate speeches as they are targeted against the citizens, particularly the migrant workers,” it said.
The NGO has urged the court to declare that “fraternity” in the preamble of the Constitution formed the part of the basic structure of the statute.