Plea in SC seeks court-monitored investigation, prosecution in connection with hate speeches

The plea has been filed by the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind through its president Maulana Syed Mahmood Asad Madani

A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a court-monitored investigation and prosecution in hate crimes related to the “continuous attack” on the personality of Prophet Mohammad and disparaging remarks by various people in different parts of the country attacking the very belief system of Muslims at large.

The plea has been filed by the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind through its president Maulana Syed Mahmood Asad Madani and it seeks a direction to the Centre for a report on the action taken by different state mechanisms in relation to hate speeches, more particularly targeting the personality of Prophet Mohammad.

The petition, which has been filed by advocate MR Shamshad, also sought directions and orders for constituting an independent committee to compile all the complaints related to hate crimes in the country.

“It is submitted that insulting Prophet Mohammad is akin to attacking the very foundation of Islam and in that sense, is of an extremely grave nature as it results in not only the targeting of Muslim people, but also assailing the basis of their faith,” the plea said.

It said such speeches go beyond the limits of a permitted critical denial of another’s beliefs and are certainly likely to incite religious intolerance, and the state as well as the central authorities ought to consider the same to be incompatible with respect to the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and must take proportionate restrictive measures.

“It is also pointed out in the petition that such speeches destroy the secular fabric of our nation, which also forms the part of the basic structure of our Constitution. Resultantly, the respondents, being bound by the Constitution, ought to have an adversarial relationship with the proponents of such speeches and must take adequate remedial steps to prevent the same,” the plea said.

The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind said it has approached the court after waiting for a considerable amount of time and giving the state authorities time to take appropriate steps for remedial action as well as preventive measures.

“However, it appears that the state authorities have completely failed in this regard. The petitioners have also taken steps by lodging appropriate complaints before the police authorities. Against many other communally sensitive speeches, the police has not at all registered an FIR and if the aggrieved persons have approached the court of the magistrate seeking appropriate directions for registration of FIRs, the magistrate has dismissed the complaints…,” the plea said.

It added that considering the facts, it is necessary that the court invokes the extraordinary jurisdiction by issuing appropriate directions, fixing the accountability of responsible persons placed within the system and also laying certain guidelines as to how the issue of hate speeches and those accused of giving such speeches are to be dealt with in a time-bound manner.

“The petitioners are making the submissions being conscious of the fact that these hate speeches, specifically when they are made against religious personalities like Prophet Mohammad and the Muslim community at large, the diversity in the country and the peaceful coexistence of the followers of different religious beliefs come under a serious threat,” the plea stated.

It added that protecting the diversity and peaceful coexistence of all citizens of the country is the collective responsibility of the society at large, including the authorities responsible for maintaining law and order.

“In view of the continuous attacks on the Muslim community at large, many violent acts have taken place in which many precious lives have been lost, mostly of people belonging to the Muslim community. In this background, it is necessary that this court considers passing appropriate directions in the line of the prayers made in the petition,” the plea said.

Recently, 76 lawyers wrote to Chief Justice of India N V Ramana, requesting him to take suo motu cognisance of the hate speeches allegedly made at separate events organised in Delhi and Haridwar.

The letter alleged that the speeches delivered during the events were not mere hate speeches but amounted to an open call for killing the members of a community.

“The said speeches thus, pose a grave threat not just to the unity and integrity of our country but also endanger the lives of millions of Muslim citizens,” it said.

“It is also pointed out that the recent speeches are a part of a series of similar speeches that we have come across in the past…. Thus, urgent judicial intervention is required to prevent such events that seem to have become the order of the day,” the letter read.

It was signed by senior advocates Salman Khurshid, Dushyant Dave and Meenakshi Arora, among others.

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