The Supreme Court on Friday expressed reservation in framing of guidelines for restricting hate speeches by politicians and leaders of social and religious organisations.

“How can we stop people from making derogatory speeches? How can it be enforced? If it is an offence then file a complaint under the Representation of People’s Act against the politicians,” a bench headed by Justice B.S. Chauhan said.

The counsel appearing for petitioner NGO Pravasi Bhalai Sanghatan pleaded that the apex court should pass order in this regard as no action is taken on the complaint and referred that it had filed a plea in Maharashtra but nothing was done on it.

The bench then asked the petitioner to file a copy of the complaint before it and adjourned the case for three weeks.

The apex court had earlier issued notices to the governments of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh which witnessed incidents of alleged speeches. It had also sought response from the Election Commission on the issue.

The EC in its reply said that it has no power to de-register a party on the ground of complaints of violation of the provisions of the Constitution.

“Law in its present form does not empower the Commission to withdraw recognition of a recognised political party or to de-register a party on the ground that one of its leaders indulged in hate speech, particularly when the hate speech is not made during the period and in place where Model Code of Conduct is in force,” it said in its response.

The PIL said there was a need for guidelines as hate speeches destroy the fabric of democracy and violate the provisions of the Constitution.

The PIL named Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh as respondents as the two states witnessed incidents of alleged hate speeches.

It referred to the alleged hate speeches made by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray and claimed that no FIR was registered about them in the state.

The PIL had said that 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.

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