On August 2, 2023, an Interlocutory Application (IA) was filed by Shaheen Abdullah in the Supreme Court in the pending writ petition concerning hate speeches in India. The said plea was urgently moved to the Supreme Court in the wake of the communal violence that took place in Nuh, Haryana on July 31. Through the said petition, the Supreme Court was urged to intervene in the rallies planned by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) region.
It is pertinent to note that on July 31, a religious procession was being taken out by the VHP- Bajrang Dal in Nuh, where clashes had taken place between the Muslim and the Hindu community. Pursuant to the clashes, violence had spread to other districts of Haryana, where members of the Muslim community were being incessantly targeted by Hindutva mobs. Reports of Mosques and shops run by Muslim being vandalised and burnt also surfaced from Gurugram, Haryana.
Many videos of members of Bajrang Dal and VHP conducting demonstrations and protest in districts of Haryana also emerged where they could be seen and heard raising offensive and inciting slogans calling for committing violence against Muslims.
In the application, the following incidents were highlighted: “That it is pertinent to note that in a rally hosted by Bajrang Dal which is the youth wing of the said VHP on 01.08.2023 at Bhiwani, Haryana participants shouted slogans calling for violence against Muslims [(“Jab Mulle kaate jaayenge, Ram Ram Chillaayenge” (When Muslims will be chopped off, we will shout Ram Ram)]. In another rally, also held by Bajrang Dal on 01.08.2023 in Najafgarh, Delhi after clashes during a Muharram procession in Nangloi, Delhi, the members shouted hateful slogans against Muslims [“Desh ke gaddaron ko, Goli maro salon ko (shoot the traitors of our country)].”
On the morning of August 2, a list of rallies planned by VHP across Delhi-NCR surfaced on the social media. The following rallies were planned, as provided in the application:
- “Delhi-Haryana border;
- Noida (from Sector 21A to Rajnigandha Chowk), Uttar Pradesh;
- Manesar, Haryana;
- 23 localities in Delhi including Karol Bagh, Patel Nagar, Lajpat Nagar, Mayur Vihar, Mukherjee Nagar, Narela, Moti Nagar, Tilak Nagar, Nangloi, Ambedkar Nagar, Najafgarh etc.”
The applicant highlighted the urgency for attention of the Court and strong apprehension of law and order situation associated with the proposed rallies by stating “That given the fact that the situation in Nuh and Gurgaon continues to be extremely tense and even the slightest provocation could result in serious loss of life and damage to property, rallies that are likely to fan communal fires and incite people to resort to violence, ought to not be permitted. It is submitted that such rallies that demonize communities and openly call for violence and killing of people are not limited in terms of their impact to just those areas that are presently dealing with communal tensions but will inevitably lead to communal disharmony and violence of an unfathomable scale across the country.”
With this, the applicant had prayed that “Direction be issued to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, DGP, Uttar Pradesh, DGP, Haryana and such other authorities as deemed appropriate by this Hon’ble Court to take adequate action so as to ensure that the rallies scheduled to take place on August 2 are not allowed”
The applicant had further prayed that in case the rallies are taken out, the same should be recorded and the footage should be placed before the Supreme Court, along with the transcripts and the translations.
The complete application can be read here:
The order of the Supreme Court along with the observations can be read here.
Previous orders in the Shaheen Abdullah case:
On May 17, a bench led by Justice KM Joseph, who has now retired, had heard the said case on hate speech and hate crime matters. During the said hearing, Justice KM Joseph had stated that prompt action against perpetrators irrespective of their religions will ensure that no hate crimes take place. ““I do not think anyone has any interest other than the best interest of our nation. The only point is, when you take action promptly – irrespective of religion, irrespective of anything else – and just make [India] into a country ruled by the rule of law. There will be no problems”, as reported by the LiveLaw.
Previous to this, in February 2023, Shaheen Abdullah had approached the court seeking a ban on an impending meeting of the Sakal Hindu Samaj in Maharashtra. The petitioner had cited alleged instances of anti-Muslim rhetoric used by the right-wing group during a previous rally. The bench had accepted the demand of the petitioner that the meeting should be recorded on video, and issued an appropriate direction to that effect to the police inspector of the area. The bench had adjourned the hearing after recording an undertaking made by the State of Maharashtra that if permission is granted for the Sakal Hindu Samaj to hold its proposed meeting in Mumbai, it would be subject to the condition that no one would make any hate speech, act in defiance of law, or disturb the public order. The bench had also directed the state police to, if the permission was granted and the occasion arose, to invoke Section 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which allows the police to make preventive arrests.
In October 2022, a bench headed by Justice KM Joseph had issued direction to the Governments of NCT of Delhi, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh to take suo moto action against any hate speech crime, without waiting for any complaint. Failure to take action against incidents of hate speech – irrespective of the religion of the maker of such speech – would be contempt of court, the bench had warned. While issuing a set of interim directions to curb hate speech, the Supreme Court had observed, “There cannot be fraternity unless different religious communities are available to live in harmony.”