Supreme Court: Authorities must ensure that no violence or hate speeches takes place during VHP rally in Delhi-NCR

In a special hearing, SC bench orders recording of proposed VHP rallies, entrust the state government to ensure that no untoward incident takes place; reminds them of the SC orders passed by Justice KM Joseph in the past regarding filing of suo-moto cases of hate speeches, states authorities still bound by it
Image: Indian Express

 “We have to ensure that rule of law is maintained. This cannot be treated as an adversarial litigation. The law and order is basically a policing issue which must be taken care of”
– Justice Khanna, Supreme Court of India

On August 2, the Supreme Court urged the state authorities of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to ensure that no violence or hate speeches take place in the protest marches being held by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal in various parts of Delhi-National Capital Region today in the wake of the communal violence in Nuh in Haryana.

The Supreme Court passed the aforementioned order during the special hearing of the Supreme Court. On the morning of August 2, two days after anti-Muslim violence started erupting in various part of Haryana, a result of “clashes” that took place during a religious procession of the Bajrang Dal and VHP, a list of events planned by the VHP in Delhi-NCR started doing rounds on social media. The said list provided 23 locations across Delhi-NCR where the events were planned on August 2 by the extremist and fringe organisations. The scheduled events were supposed to be held from morning till evening.

Advocate CU Singh, considering the urgent nature of the matter which could have life threatening consequences for the Muslim community, approached the Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud to request for immediate intervention. The constitutional bench hearing on Article 370 was halted as CJI DY Chandrachud rostered an urgent hearing for a petition on the riots in Haryana’s Nuh district.

The VHP list of events is as follows:

Since there were strong apprehensions that the planned rallies might lead to riots, hate speeches and targeting of Muslims in Delhi, similar to what happened in districts of Haryana, a plea was moved by Shaheen Abdullah as an interlocutory application in the writ petition filed by him seeking directions to stop hate crimes.

In the said application, it was alleged that provocative statements were made in the earlier rallies held by these organisations in Bhiwani and Najafgarh in Haryana on August 1. The application had stated, “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”, as provided by the LiveLaw.

The said urgent plea was then heard by a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Justice SV Bhatti in a special sitting at 2 pm. CJI DY Chandrachud had passed orders for the immediate listing of the application and the special bench was constituted. The said bench heard the urgent application filed to stop the VHP-Bajrang Dal rallies in Delhi-NCR.

Observations by the Supreme Court bench

While no stay was granted on the proposed rallies, the Court asked the Delhi Police, and the Governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to ensure that no untoward incident takes place in the rallies. The Court also directed the authorities to video record the rallies in sensitive areas and preserve the footage.

Addressing Additional Solicitor General of India SV Raju, Justice Khanna provided the following: “There cannot be any quarrel on the proposition that hate speeches do vitiate the atmosphere. Mr. Raju, please ensure that the authorities must take adequate precautions to ensure that there is no violence and there are no hate speeches”,

The Supreme Court bench also directed the ASG to get in touch with state governments to prevent any hate speech or violence during marches held by the VHP and Bajrang Dal following the communal clashes in Nuh.

“Please get in touch with the authorities immediately to ensure that nothing untoward happens and at least there are no hate speeches or violence at all. And wherever you think are sensitive areas, take additional precautions in the form of additional police force. Also, deploy CCTV cameras to ensure everything is recorded”, Justice Khanna told the ASG, as reported by LiveLaw.

The bench also enquired Senior Advocate Chander Singh, who were appearing for the petitioner, whether any hate speeches have been made at the events that have been held already. To the same, Advocate Singh replied in an affirmative. He provided that “hate speeches were made in the rallies which have already been held in the Delhi-NCR today forenoon and more rallies are going to happen today in sensitive areas,” as provided by LiveLaw.

The bench then reminded the police regarding the orders passed by retired Justice KM Joseph and Justice BV Nagarathna, wherein the Bench had asked the law enforcement officers to take suo moto action to register FIR against hate speeches, without waiting for any formal complaint (orders issued in October 2002, April 2023).

Advocate Singh also informed the Court that a Mahapanchayat will be scheduled to take place in Haryana today evening at 4 pm amidst communal tensions, to which Justice Khanna replied, “Let it be, as long as there is no hate speech, no violence whether destruction of property or violence against individuals”, as provided by LiveLaw.

Order of the Court:

As provided by LiveLaw, the bench stated the following in its order:

“We hope and trust that the State Governments, including the police authorities, will ensure that there are no hate speeches against any community and there is no violence or damage to properties. Wherever required, adequate police force or paramilitary forces will be deployed. Further, authorities including the police will take use of the CCTV cameras where installed or make video recordings in all sensitive areas wherever required. The CCTV footage and the videos will be preserved”.

The bench also directed the Registry to communicate the order to the Standing Counsels of the Governments of NCT of Delhi, Haryana and UP.

Supreme Court order can be read here.


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