The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre and States to clarify actions taken against hate speeches even as petitioners argued that the distinction between dissent and hate speech is getting deliberately "muddied".
A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar asked petitioners to prepare a chart of instances of hate speech and provide it to States in a week. The States would in turn inform the steps taken by them in these cases.
The Bench was hearing a petition filed by Maulana Mahmood Asad Madani, the president of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, highlighting incidents of hate speech and humiliation of Prophet Mohammed.
The court listed the case after six weeks.
Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora contended that hate speech and insult of the Prophet would be an attack on secularism.
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The petitioners highlighted how hate speeches continue to hold sway with impunity despite its 2017 judgment in Tehseen Poonawalla case.
In this verdict, the court had called for zero tolerance on the part of the Centre and States for hate crimes. It had termed hate crimes as a "product of intolerance, ideological dominance and prejudice".
Among other steps, the apex court had directed State governments to form special task forces to prevent hate crimes and "procure intelligence reports about the people who are likely to commit such crimes or who are involved in spreading hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news".
The court had held that any failure on the part of the authorities would be viewed as an "act of deliberate negligence and/or misconduct".
The court had reiterated its position against hate crimes in another judgment in the Amish Devgan case in December 2020, holding that hate speech was an attack on dignity in the “matter of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship” and threatened the unity of the nation as a whole.