India

Supreme Court describes hate speech as a “serious offence” and orders states to record a case even if no complaint is filed

The Supreme Court stated that hate speech was a serious offence that could damage the secular fabric of the country.
The Supreme Court has instructed the states to consider hate speech as a significant offense that can have a detrimental impact on the unity and diversity of the nation. As part of a hearing on cases related to the failure of states to take action against hate speech incidents, the court directed that cases be registered for such offenses even if no formal complaint has been lodged. The court also warned that any delay in registering such cases would be deemed as a violation of court orders.
In the previous month, a panel consisting of Justices K M Joseph and B V Nagarathna expressed that hate speech occurs due to the incompetence and powerlessness of the state, as it fails to act promptly. They further added that segregating politics and religion would put an end to hate speech.
The recent remarks by the Supreme Court coincide with a surge in hate speech and violent incidents, creating anxiety and fear, particularly among minority communities. In the previous month, the bench had highlighted the state’s inability to take prompt action when necessary and suggested that the problem of hate speech could be resolved by separating politics and religion.