When the political leaders are busy in campaigning in view of the general elections, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Law Commission to look into the issue of "hate speech" by the leaders and consider framing guidelines to regulate such provocative statements.
Holding hate speeches of social, political and religious leaders based on religion, caste, region or ethnicity a "menace" to society, the Supreme Court asked law-enforcing agencies to book such persons.
While refusing to issue guidelines by itself and without setting any time frame, a bench headed by justice BS Chauhan asked the body of government's legal experts to define what constitutes "hate speech" and whether political parties can be derecognised for provocative statements.
The bench passed the order on a PIL by NGO Pravasi Bhalai Sanghatan alleging that there was a need for guidelines as hate speeches destroy the fabric of democracy and violate the provisions of the Constitution.
The PIL had named Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh as respondents as the two states witnessed incidents of alleged hate speeches.
It had referred to the alleged hate speeches made by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray and claimed that no FIR was registered against them in the state.
The petitioner also said in Andhra Pradesh, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Akbaruddin Owaisi had allegedly made hate speeches and was arrested for them. But after being released on bail, he had again made similar speeches in Nanded, Maharashtra, it alleged.