'When Politics and Religion Are Segregated, This'll Stop': 8 Quotes From SC's Words on Hate Speech

In a contempt petition hearing on March 29, a bench of Justices K.M. Joseph and B.V. Nagarathna took an unguarded stance on the role of the state when it comes to dealing with hate speech.

New Delhi: A Supreme Court bench of Justices K.M. Joseph and B.V. Nagarathna had strong words to say on the role of the state in taking action against incidents of hate speech.

The hearing, in which the bench was considering a petition asking for contempt of court action against the Maharashtra government over their alleged failure to act against hate speeches during rallies, was reported on by LiveLaw in detail. The petitions alleged that the state government was ignoring the Supreme Court’s own directions when dealing with processions of the Sakal Hindu Samaj. This Supreme Court bench had also asked authorities to take relevant action against proponents of hate speech without waiting for a complaint to be filed.

Below are some of the most striking lines said by Justices Joseph and Nagarathna, curated from LiveLaw‘s report of the hearing.

On the state’s role, Justice Joseph:

“State is impotent, state is powerless; it does not act in time. Why do we have a State at all if it is remaining silent?”.

On minorities, Justice Joseph:

“The minorities also have rights under the Constitution recognised by the founding fathers…Most important thing for a man is dignity; not wealth, health. If it is being demolished on a regular basis…Some statements are made, like,“Go to Pakistan”. They are those persons who had actually chosen this country. They are like our brothers and sisters…If we want to become a superpower, the first thing we need is rule of law…It speaks about brotherhood.”

On the role of contempt petitions in dealing with cases of hate speech, Justice Nagarathna:

“We had orators like Nehru, Vajpayee. People from rural areas used to come to listen to them. Unfortunately people who have no stuff, fringe elements on all slides are making such speeches…Now we are going to take up contempt after contempt against every person in India. Will there be no kind of restraint in the speech of the people in India?”

On the role of contempt in dealing with this particular petition concerning hate speech, Justice Nagarathna:

“The contempt is necessary. The message should not go that we have passed order which can be defined. Our orders have to be implemented.”

On India’s future, Justice Nagarathna:

“We want to be number 1 in the world and this is what is there internally in our society…If there is an intellectual depravement you cannot take this country as number 1 in the world and intellectual depravement only comes when there is intolerance; lack of knowledge, lack of education.”

On citizens’ role, Justice Nagarathna:

“Why can’t the citizens of this country take a pledge not to vilify anybody else in our society. What are we getting from vilification of somebody else?”

On the state’s role, Justice Joseph:

“Not only register FIR, you have to take further action.”

On how this can be stopped, Justice Joseph:

“The moment politics and religion is segregated all this will stop.”