SC notice to Uttarakhand govt in Haridwar hate speech case | Latest News India | #socialmedia

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Uttarakhand government on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a former Patna high court judge and a journalist, demanding stringent action against those involved in making hate speeches at a religious event held in Haridwar last month where some speakers allegedly called for violence against Muslims and Christians.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, also allowed the petitioners to approach the local administration and police authorities in Uttar Pradesh with their plea to stop a similar religious event in Aligarh on January 23.

“For the present, we are issuing notice to the state government…We also permit the petitioners to bring to the notice of the concerned local authorities the relevant laws and orders of this court with respect to the event that is going to take place,” directed the bench, also comprising justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.

The bench said that it would take up the PIL after ten days, during which time the court would also ascertain if there is any similar case already pending before it and that the fresh case should be heard along with the old matter.

During the hearing, the CJI observed that there are enough provisions under the Indian Penal Code and other laws against hate speeches, besides a judgment of the Supreme Court in 2019 that issued various guidelines for the Centre, states and Union territories to act against such offenders.

“The law is already there. There are enough provisions under the IPC etc. There is no difficulty as far as the law is concerned. There are directions of this court too. What do we say when there is already a law?” the bench asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for the petitioners, former HC judge Anajana Prakash and journalist Qurban Ali.

Sibal responded that although the apex court has dealt with the issue of hate speech in the past, problems arising out of religious events called “Dharm Sansad” were being taken to it for the first time.

“We are now dealing with Dharm Sansads where calls for genocides are being made. Due to these Dharm Sansads, the atmosphere of entire country will be vitiated. The ethos of this country and the social fabric is under threat,” added Sibal.

At this, senior advocate Indira Jaising also intervened on behalf of activist Tushar Gandhi, who was one of the petitioners in the case when the Supreme Court in 2019 issued directives on appointing nodal officers to curb hate speeches and stop mob lynching over suspected cow slaughter.

“The direction by this court to appoint nodal officers to prevent such incidents have not been implemented by any state. Had those directions been implemented, these problems would not keep cropping up. While the 2019 direction was on mob lynching over cow slaughter, here is an open call to exterminate one particular community. This issue has not been addressed by any court till date,” argued Jaising.

The bench, however, clarified that it would first ascertain if similar matters were already being heard by any other bench in the top court. “This is a matter I want to take up and hear it but if some other bench is already seized of it, we cannot entertain it here,” justice Ramana told the counsel.

On a request by Sibal to urgently list the matter in the wake of another Dharm Sansad being organised in Aligarh on January 23, the bench said that the petitioners were permitted to approach concerned authorities in Uttar Pradesh with their plea to stop the event.

The court has also issued notices to the Centre and Delhi Police. The petition has made Centre a party over issuance of nationwide guidelines against events like Dharm Sansads. The Delhi Police has been involved by the petitioner in connection to the event organised by representatives of right-wing organisation ‘Hindu Yuva Vahini’ in the Capital last month.

On Monday, the bench agreed to urgently list for hearing this petition after Sibal requested it.

The event in Haridwar, held from 17-19 December, was organised by Yati Narsinghanand, a religious leader who has been accused in the past of inciting violence with his incendiary speeches.

After several controversial videos from the event that were circulated on social media triggered outrage, the Uttarakhand police registered a first information report (FIR) against some leaders present at the event, including Jitendra Narayan Singh Tyagi, formerly known as Waseem Rizvi, for allegedly giving a “provocative speech” against “a particular religion” (Islam) at the Dharm Sansad. No arrests have been made in the case so far.

Uttarakhand minister and government spokesperson Subodh Uniyal said, “The government will examine the Supreme Court order and follow the directives. As far as the action taken by the government is concerned, an SIT has already been formed which is probing the case as per the law.”

Rizvi was the former chairman of the Shia Central Waqf Board who converted to Hinduism on December 6 last year in the presence of Narsinghanand.

Former Patna HC judge and senior advocate Prakash, and journalist Qurban Ali, have approached the Supreme Court complaining of inaction against those who made hate speeches at the Haridwar Dharm Sansad and in Delhi.

Few days after a case was registered against the accused in the matter another video went viral in which a police official from Haridwar Kotwali police station, where the case was registered, was seen sharing a laugh with some of the accused in the case, including Narsinghanand, Tyagi and Annapuna Maa.

Urging the court to set up a special investigation team to probe the incident and bring guilty to book, the petition has said that the speeches made at the Sansad posed a grave threat not just to the unity and integrity of the country but also endangered the lives of millions of Muslim citizens.

It also cited some viral videos of the incident, reportedly showing proclamations made by various religious leaders at the event while contending that the Police authorities are hand in glove with the perpetrators of communal hate.

Meanwhile, the accused have maintained that they stick to their statements in the Dharm Sansad and there was nothing wrong in it. In addition, several other seers have decided to hold a protest meeting in Haridwar on January 16 protesting the registration of the criminal case against participants in the conclave .

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