Supreme Court Directs Videography Of Sakal Hindu Samaj Meet; Asks Police To Take Preventive Action If Necessary To Prevent Hate Speech
The Supreme Court on Friday recorded the undertaking made by the State of Maharashtra that if permission is granted for Sakal Hindu Samaj for holding its proposed meeting at Mumbai on February 5, it will be subject to the condition that "nobody will make any hate speech and act in defiance of law or disturb the public order".
Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta made this undertaking before a bench comprising Justices KM Joseph and JB Pardiwala which was hearing a petition seeking to ban the proposed meeting of the organisation. Citing alleged instances of anti-Muslim hate speech during the 'Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha' held by the Sakal Hindu Samaj in Mumbai on January 29, the petitioner Shaheen Abdullah sought the Court's intervention, apprehending the repeat of similar incidents.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that the police should invoke Section 151 of Code of Criminal Procedure-which gives power to the police to arrest persons to prevent cognizable offences- as regards the organisers, having regard to the events in the previous meeting. SG Mehta opposed this demand of the petitioner.
The bench recorded in order as follows :
"We also direct that the officers, in case permission is granted and in case the occasion arises for invoking power under Section 151, it shall be the duty of the officers concerned to invoke the mandate of Section 151".
Further, accepting Sibal's demand that the meeting should be videographed and a report should be given to the Court, the bench issued a direction to that effect to the police inspector of the area. The contents of the video should be made available to the Court.
The bench also directed the Solicitor General to get instructions from the State on the allegations made by the petitioner regarding the January 29 meeting of the organisation.
During the hearing, the SG stoutly opposed the petition by saying that the petitioner was "selectively" taking up causes though he is claiming to be a "public spirited citizen". Mehta also questioned why a petitioner from Kerala was concerned about an event proposed in Maharashtra.
"Now selective cases are being filed here. Can this august forum be abused like this?", SG asked. "Now individuals are selectively choosing and coming to this court, saying ban this event in Uttarakhand, ban that event in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra. Can this Court be converted into an authority which grants permissions for meetings?", he asked.
While undertaking that action will be taken against hate speech, the SG questioned the demand to stop the event, saying that it will amount to "pre-speech censorship".
Sibal said that during the meeting held on last Sunday, grave statements were made by the participants, including an MP of the ruling party and these factors should be considered before deciding to allow the next meeting. "The conduct of last Sunday must be considered before permission is granted", Sibal said. According to the petitioner, calls for social and economic boycott of Muslims were made during the previous meeting.
SG said that it will be impossible for the authorities to vet the proposed speeches. "The petitioners are seeking not only pre-speech censorship but also pre-speech arrest", SG stated in respect of Sibal's reliance on Section 151.
SG said that the Court will be "pre-judging" that hate speech will take place, if directions to invoke Section 151 CrPC are passed. Regarding the direction that police should record video of the event, the SG did not oppose, but said "ideally the public spirited people should record, who come selectively and abuse this Court's jurisdiction".
"Do you think petitioners will be permitted to do videography?", Justice Joseph asked in response.
Case Title : Shaheen Abdullah vs Union of India
Citation : 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 80
For Petitioner(s) Mr. Kapil Sibal, Sr. Adv. Mr. Nizam Pasha, Adv. Ms. Rashmi Singh, Adv. Ms. Sumita Hazarika, AOR
For Respondent(s) Mr. Tushar Mehta, SGI Mr. K. M. Nataraj, ASG (NP) Mr. Sanjay Kumar Tyagi, Adv. Mr. Rajat Nair, Adv. Mr. Kanu Agarwal, Adv. Mr. Varun Chugh, Adv. Mr. Mayank Pandey, Adv. Mr. Shreekant N. Terdal, Adv. Mr. Siddharth Dharmadhikari, Adv. Mr. Aaditya A. Pande, AOR Mr. Bharat Baghla, Adv. Ms. Kirti Dadheech, Adv. Mr. Shantnu Sharma, Adv. Mr. Bhuvan Kapur, Adv. Mr. Rohit Khare, Adv. Mr. Atmaram Nadkarni, ASG Mr. Sourabh Mishra, Adv. Ms. Deepti Arya, Adv. Ms. Arzu Paul, Adv. Ms. Manisha Gupta, Adv. Mr. S. S. Rebello, Ad. Mr. Gurmeet Singh Makker, AOR Ms. Garima Prashad, Sr. A.A.G. Ms. Ruchira Goel, AOR Mr. Adit Jayeshbhai Shah, Adv. Mr. Jatinder Kumar Sethi, D.A.G. Dr. Abhishek Atrey, Adv. Mr. Ashutosh Sharma, Adv. Ms. Ambika Atrey, Adv. Mr. Abhishek Atrey, AOR
Apprehension of Hate Speech - Supreme Court issues directions regarding meeting proposed by Sakal Hindu Samaj- Records undertaking of State of Maharashtra that permission will be granted to the meeting only subject to condition that no hate speech will be made- Directs videography of the meeting by the Police and make the video available to the Court- Directs police to invoke the powers under Section 151 CrPC if occasion arises