SC takes up plea on hate speech proliferation

Bench says it will, rather than deal with the case piecemeal, hear what authorities had to say

November 12, 2021 05:41 pm | Updated 05:43 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Supreme Court of India in New Delhi

Supreme Court of India in New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Friday took up a plea filed by former member of Planning Commission Syeda Hameed and Delhi University professor Alok Rai about the liability of authorities in preventing the proliferation of hate speech, especially in social media.

A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar asked the petitioners’ lawyer, Shahrukh Alam, to serve copies of the petition to the Centre, Delhi government and the police.

However, the court did not issue a formal notice. The Bench said it would, rather than deal with the case piecemeal, hear what the authorities had to say. The court posted the case later in November.

The petition urged the court to fix the extent of liability of public authorities in case they wilfully allow hate speech in violation of the law. It said public authorities have a “duty of care” to prevent hate speeches targetting particular communities.

Rallies and public meets

The petition, which was filed after a recent event at Jantar Mantar reported anti-sloganeering, referred to the rallies and public meets that create communal tensions.

It said hate speech lay the groundwork for later broad attacks on vulnerable sections that could range from discrimination, to ostracism, segregation, deportation, violence and, in the most extreme cases, to genocide.

The petition also sought the implementation of the anti-lynching guidelines issued by the court.

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