9 Dec 2022 12:05 PM GMT
Padma Shree awardee and a former member of the Planning Commission of India, Dr. Syeda Hameed has moved the Supreme Court seeking impleadment in the PIL filed by BJP leader and Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay against forced religious conversions, which is violative of Article 25 of the Constitution. Hameed has already filed a petition before the Top Court raising concerns over...
Padma Shree awardee and a former member of the Planning Commission of India, Dr. Syeda Hameed has moved the Supreme Court seeking impleadment in the PIL filed by BJP leader and Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay against forced religious conversions, which is violative of Article 25 of the Constitution.
Hameed has already filed a petition before the Top Court raising concerns over rising incidents of hate speech. In the present application, she claims that there is an "intrinsic relationship" between hate speech and free exercise of freedom of religion under Article 25.
She highlights four classes of instances where an individual is curtailed from exercising freedom of religion and conscience:
First, when 'Hate Speech' is systemic and widespread and explicitly targets particular religions. She submits that hate speech feeds into social discrimination, affects marginalized communities and causes loss of 'agency' required to exercise freedom of religion and conscience.
"Right to freedom of conscience feels affected and restricted by the stigmatizing and the push towards social and political exclusion…there have been rallies replete with speeches that directly and hatefully target a religious community."
Second, when there is targeted sexual violence or threats of sexual violence for adhering to certain beliefs, or for professing, identifying with a religion. The application states,
"Sexual violence, or threats thereof remain one of the most potent attacks on free agency and the right to profess/ identify with a group."
Third, repeated calls for economic and spatial apartheid.
Hameed refers to two recent events at Haridwar that allegedly targeted Muslim community and propagated violent speeches inciting their killings.
"Contents of the speech feed into an already prevailing discourse… which has no space for other cultures, traditions and practices… creating paranoia and a completely manufactured feeling of being under siege amongst ordinary Hindu citizens…such actions evoke fear, and also have the effect of inducement to the poorest vendors, who might feel compelled to hide their religious identities."
Fourth, when such calls are made by persons holding public offices, or by persons in the media with widespread following, or even in the state's response to the same.
Hameed claims that there have been cases where State lodged criminal cases against persons offering namaz in public spaces but no such action was taken over other forms of worship in public places.
Certain media persons with large following are also said to have openly encouraged economic and social boycott based on religious identities.
This, she claims evokes both fear and an inducement to hide personal religious convictions.
The Application has been drawn by Advocates Shahrukh Alam and Shantanu Singh and filed by AoR Akriti Chaubey