Hate Speech At Haridwar Dharam Sansad: SC Issues Notice To U'Khand Govt

Plea in SC sought a probe on the calls for genocide made at the Dharam Sansad in Haridwar between December 17-19, 2021.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Uttarakhand government on a plea filed by a retired high court judge seeking a probe in the hate speech targeting the Muslim community at the Dharam Sansad held at Haridwar between December 17-19, 2021.

The apex court however expressed its apprehension to hear the matter after senior advocate Indira Jaising pointed out that the Supreme Court has already issued guidelines to tackle hate speech in the 2018 Tehseen Poonawala judgment.

"The question is...counsels are saying other judgments are there and implementation is needed," Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said. "We are issuing notice and we will list it after 10 days. We will see if it is connected (to other pending matters if any) then we will tag," CJI Ramana added.

However, the bench also allowed the petitioners to file a representation with the appropriate authorities and tell them how the calls for violence at the Dharam Sansad is against certain penal provisions.

Jaising is representing Mahatma Gandhi's grandson Tushar who wants to join in the petition. Gandhi was also one of the petitioners in the Poonawala judgment which was primarily on the issue of mob lynching.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by Qurban Ali, a journalist and Anjana Prakash, a retired high court judge which alleged that hate speeches at two events organized in Haridwar (by one Yati Narsinghanand), and in Delhi (by an organization self-styled as 'Hindu Yuva Vahini') pose a grave threat not just to the unity and integrity of our country but also endanger the lives of millions of Muslim citizens.

Hate Speech at Dharam Sansad against country's ethos: Sibal to SC

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the plea filed by Qurban Ali and Anjana Prakash, told the Supreme Court that open calls of genocide was against the country's ethos.

"The next such event is planned for Aligarh on January 23, in the middle of a state election," Sibal said stressing on the urgency of the matter. "If no quick steps are taken, these 'Dharam Sansads' will be organised across the country, in Una, Dasna, Kurukshetra etc. The entire country's atmosphere will be vitiated. It is contrary to the ethos of the country, it is incitement of violence," Sibal added.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, representing Tushar Gandhi, said the law and guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in its 2018 Tehseen Poonawala judgment was not being implemented. Jaising added that states have not appointed nodal officers as mandated in the 2018 verdict.

"If the judgment had been implemented in its letter and spirit then such events (Haridwar Hate Assembly) would not take place," she said.

During the hearing, lawyers told the top court that there were other matters pertaining to hate speech that was pending before a bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud. However, Sibal stressed that his petition was unique since there was no law that dealt with the calls for violence as the ones made at the Dharam Sansad.

"There's no law for this sort of hate speech," Sibal added.

"If quick steps are not taken these Dharm Sansad will take place at other places. No arrests have been made It's contrary to what this country stands for. It's incitement of violence," he added.

Also Read: "Who" And "Where" Tests Matter To Determine Hate Speech: Madras HC

Open calls for genocide at Dharam Sansad against constitution: Plea in SC

The plea filed by the journalist and the retired high court judge said the calls for violence at the Dharam Sansads held in Haridwar and Delhi in December 2021 went against the constitution.

Hindu leaders Yati Narsinghanand, Swami Prabodhanand Giri, Annapurna Maa (General Secretary of Hindu Mahasabha), Supreme Court lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay among others participated in a Dharam Sansad held at Haridwar between December 17-19, 2021 where explicit calls for genocide and a call for a Hindu Rashtra was allegedly made.

In Delhi, a similar event was organized which saw the participation of Sudarshan TV Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavanke.

The plea states that the hate speeches "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 plea added that the virality of the videos showcasing the events, not only allowed the "delivery of hate speeches with impunity but also shows that the Police authorities are in fact hand in glove with the perpetrators of communal hate."

In one of the videos that have gone viral, a police officer was seen acknowledging his allegiance to the alleged offenders, the petition said.

"The proclamations made at the events are widely available on the internet and qualify as both extreme hate speech and also as 'violent speech inciting targeted killings of Muslim citizens', which would pass the 'spark in a powder keg' test, the plea contended.

Such hate speeches "feed into an already prevailing discourse which seeks to reimagine the Indian Republic as exclusivist," which violates constitutional guarantees.

Also Read: In The Dark World Of Edgelord Trads, Genocide And Rape Memes Are 'Fun'

Updated On: 2022-01-12T13:23:11+05:30
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