The Supreme Court while hearing a plea to prevent Sakal Hindu Samaj’s proposed meeting on February 5, has taken on record an undertaking that the meeting will only be allowed if no hate speech will be made. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the State of Maharashtra gave the undertaking before the bench of Justices KM Joseph and JB Pardiwala that if permission is granted for the meeting to be held in Mumbai, it will be subject to the condition that “nobody will make any hate speech and act in defiance of law or disturb the public order”.
The petitioner, Shaheen Abdullah had contended that similar to its anti-Muslim speech during ‘Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha’ held in Mumbai on January 29, it can be apprehended that the same will be repeated during the February 5 meeting as well. The Mumbai rally, purportedly organized against ‘love jihad’ and ‘land jihad’, ended with a provocative speech by Goshamahal MLA T Raja Singh calling for a boycott of Muslim owned businesses and for Hindus to ‘slit throats’ . Sakal Hindu Samaj is an umbrella organization of several Hindutva organizations including Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), Shiv Pratishthan and Sanatan Sanstha. Mumbai police estimated that the rally was attended by 10,000 to 12,000 citizens.
A detailed account of the rally may be read here.
Yesterday, Abdullah had appeared before a bench of Justices K.M. Joseph, Aniruddha Bose and Hrishikesh Roy seeking urgent hearing in the matter. The bench had however expressed its dismay over petitioners knocking at the doors of the top court each time, “We are with you on this, but understand that the Supreme Court cannot be triggered every time there is a rally notified. We have already passed an order which is clear enough. Just imagine rallies happening all across the country. Every time there will be an application before the Supreme Court. How can that be feasible?”
The bench was not keen to pass an order on every such event taking place. The bench also expressed its anguish over the non-compliance of its earlier orders. In October last year, the Supreme Court had instructed the Police in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to take action against hate speech suo moto, without waiting for a complaint. The court had even warned that delay in taking action would amount to contempt of court.
Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal appearing for the petitioner urged that the police should invoke Section 151 of Code of Criminal Procedure-which gives power to the police to arrest persons to prevent cognizable offences. The bench thus directed that officers should invoke its powers under section 151 of CrPC in case the occasion for the same arises. On Sibal’s appeal, the court also directed that the meeting be videographed and the video be submitted to the court at the next hearing.
The court has also sought the State’s response on the allegations made by the petitioner against the meeting held on January 29. SG Mehta questioned why a petitioner from Kerala was raising concerns about an event in Maharashtra and accused him of selectively taking up causes. Sibal pointed out that during the January 29 rally MP of the ruling party also made some grave and perilous statements and calls for social and economic boycott of Muslims were made. He also pointed out that the police cannot possibly vet the speeches before they are delivered. However, SG Mehta opposed the plea for passing directions, as it would amount to ‘pre-speech censorship’.
The order may be read here: