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Human Rights

Supreme Court Defers Hearing Hate Speech Petitions Amidst Controversy

The Supreme Court on April 23 did not take up a series of petitions concerning the continuing incidents of hate speech across the country. The petitions were listed before a bench headed by Justice Sanjeev Khanna.

A recent report stated, “75% of hate speech events occurred in BJP-ruled States.”

Justice Bela M. Trivedi, who heads a separate bench, was part of Justice Khanna’s bench on Tuesday. Typically, Justice Dipankar Datta forms the regular bench with Justice Khanna.

By the afternoon, the bench had discharged the board, retaining only a handful of cases for detailed hearing.

The petitions had routinely appeared in the court’s causelist amidst the controversy over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks at a Rajasthan election rally. Modi had alleged that if the Congress came to power at the Center, they would “distribute people’s property, land, and gold among Muslims.”

In October 2022, a bench headed by the now-retired Justice K.M. Joseph had expressed concern, saying, “It is tragic what we have reduced religion to in the 21st century, and a climate of hate prevails in the country.”

In 2018, the Supreme Court, in its judgment in the Tehseen Poonawala case, had concluded that it was the “sacrosanct duty” of the state to protect citizens from hate crimes.

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