But declines to entertain petitions, directs them to Bombay HC
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday administered a rap on the knuckles to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray for his verbal attacks on non-Maharashtrians working in the state, which lead to violence and intimidation by party cadres. The court warned him that it would not permit the ‘balkanisation’ of the country.
“We understand the situation there [in Maharashtra] and what is happening,” a bench headed by chief justice KG Balakrishnan observed while hearing a petition seeking stern action against the MNS chief and calling for the derecognition of his party.
While declining to pass any direction on two pleas, the bench observed: “This is one country and we will not accept [the] sons of the soil theory.”
The bench was hearing petitions relating to the MNS-orchestrated violence which forced hundreds of non-Maharashtrian workers to flee from their places of work, especially in Mumbai, Pune and Nashik.
Raj Thackeray is currently on bail in a case where he has been accused of trying to create a regional divide.
The judges said since one petition related to law and order, the petitioner could move the Bombay high court or the state government. The court also declined to act on a petition for derecognition of the MNS, which was within the jurisdiction of the Election Commission. “How can this court issue mandamus when you have not gone to the EC,” the bench asked.
But its warning to the MNS leader was stern. “This Bhumiputra [sons-of-soil] theory is not acceptable. India is one country.”
In 1995, Sena chief Bal Thackeray had also received flak from the SC in a judgment relating to a Shiv Sena lawmaker who had been unseated by the Bombay HC on the ground that he (Thackeray Sr) had sought to create communal hatred in his poll speeches.
While upholding the high court decision, which included disqualification of Bal Thackeray from contesting polls for six years, a bench comprising justices JS Verma, NP Singh and K Venkataswami categorically stated that “the language used in the context amounted to an attempt to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between Hindus and Muslims on the ground of religion.”
The judges were referring to three speeches made by Thackeray while campaigning for Ramesh Yeshwant Prabhoo.
The judges had also expressed distress at the inflammatory speeches that were made by ‘top’ political leaders. “We cannot help recording our distress at this kind of speeches given by a top leader of a political party. The lack of restraint in the language used and the derogatory terms used therein to refer to a group of people in an election speech is indeed to be condemned,” they had said.