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DNA Explainer: What Supreme Court said about hate speech row, rising crimes against Muslims

The Supreme Court on Friday made several bold comments about the hate speech row erupting in the country amid disputes surrounding religion.

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The Supreme Court on Friday was left anguished over the state of crime and atrocities linked with religious conflicts and decided to make some tough observations regarding the hate speech row and rising hate crimes against the Muslim community.

The Supreme Court bench said, “Where have we reached in the name of religion, what have we reduced religion too is tragic.” This came as the apex court was hearing a plea seeking a probe into the rising number of hate crimes against Muslims, linked to religious conflicts.

What was the hate speech row petition about?

A bench of Justices K M Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy also issued notices to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand on the petition filed by journalist Shaheen Abdullah, bringing to notice the rise in hate speech and hate crimes against certain communities.

Petitioner Abdullah has moved the top court also seeking direction to the Centre and states to initiate an independent, credible and impartial probe into the incidents of hate crimes and hate speeches across the country, as per PTI reports.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Abdullah, referred to a recent incident of hate speech in Delhi. Sibal said the petitioner made several complaints but no action was taken. These events are happening every day, he said.

What did Supreme Court say on the hate speech row?

The Supreme Court bench said that the rise in hate speech and hate crime is “shocking for a country that is religion-neutral” and further noted that this spike is tragic. The court bench further urged several authorities to crack down on hate speech instances and submit a report to the court.

"This is the 21st century! Article 51A (Fundamental duties) says we should develop a scientific temper. Where have we reached in the name of religion, what have we reduced religion too is tragic," a distressed Justice Joseph said.

"There cannot be fraternity unless members of a community drawn from different religions or castes of the country are able to live in harmony. The petitioner points out that there are appropriate provisions such as Sections 153A, 153B, 505, and 295A of the Indian Penal Code. He voices his concern that no action has been taken even after this Court has been approached in the matter and the transgressions have only increased," the bench said.

Further, the apex court asked three states – Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand – to submit a report highlighting the action that the authorities have been taking against the persons who are involved in hate speech incidents.

The top court bench further said, “They (states) shall ensure that as and when any (hate) speech or action takes place without any complaint being filed, suo motu action is taken in such cases in future without waiting for complaints.”

(With PTI inputs)

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