Supreme Court to hear hate-speech case on Wednesday

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By Abdul Bari Masoud

New Delhi: Displaying urgency in the hate matter, the Supreme Court on Tuesday listed the public interest plea for hearing on Wednesday in the Court number 1  headed by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana. The petition sought a court-monitored SIT probe into the calls for genocide against Muslims sounded at a sadhus’ conclave in Haridwar and a Hindu Yuva Vahini event in Delhi last month.

The PIL was filed jointly by Anjana Prakash, a former Allahabad High Court judge and currently a senior lawyer, and senior journalist Qurban Ali on Friday and it was admitted by the court on Monday.

Earlier, in a letter 76 senior lawyers of the Supreme Court have nudged the court for taking suo moto cognizance of the hate speeches calling for genocide of the Muslim community. Former judge of the Supreme Court Justice Madan B Lokur too expressed his displeasure over the court’s inertia on the matter.

Sensing the gravity of the issue, the Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday and stated that the Chief Justice of India will preside over the panel that will hear the case.

On Monday, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioners, whether any inquiry was going on into the two events.

On being told that FIRs had been registered but no action taken yet, it said the matter would be listed for early hearing.

“Unfortunately, we are living in times when slogans in the country have changed from satyameva jayate (the truth alone triumphs) to shastrameva jayate (weapons alone will triumph),” Sibal told the bench, which included Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.

At the December 17-19 Dharma Sansad in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, and Hindutva radical sadhus were caught on video urging Hindus to take up sophisticated weapons and kill Muslims to create a Hindu Rashtra.

Videos from the Delhi event of the Vahini — whose name is similar to that of an outfit current Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath. Neither the police of BJP-ruled, poll-bound Uttarakhand nor the Centre-administered law-enforcers of Delhi have made any arrests. This lack of action has compelled the petitioners to approach the apex court, Sibal said.

“The aforementioned hate speeches consisted of open calls for genocide of Muslims in order to achieve ethnic cleansing (and)… amount to an open call for murder of an entire community,” says the petition, filed through advocate Sumita Hazarika.

“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.”

The term “shastrameva jayate” was coined at the meeting, according to the report, “which in the current context would translate into a call for genocide as defined under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, to which India is a signatory.”

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