advocatemmmohan

My photo

ADVOCATEMMMOHAN -  Practicing both IN CIVIL, CRIMINAL AND FAMILY LAWS,Etc.,

WELCOME TO LEGAL WORLD

WELCOME TO MY LEGAL WORLD - FOR KNOWLEDGE IN LAW & FOR LEGAL OPINIONS - SHARE THIS

Friday, March 14, 2014

Art.32 of Indian Constitution -“hate speech”- PIL- against hate/derogatory speeches made by people representatives/political/religious leaders on religion, caste, region and ethnic lines - Apex court held that a petition calling for issuing certain directions which are incapable of enforcement/execution can not be entertained. - and further held that The National Human Rights Commission would be well within its power if it decides to initiate suo-motu proceedings against the alleged authors of hate speech. However, in view of the fact that the Law Commission has undertaken the study as to whether the Election Commission should be conferred the power to de-recognise a political party disqualifying it or its members, if a party or its members commit the offences referred to hereinabove, we request the Law Commission to also examine the issues raised herein thoroughly and also to consider, if it deems proper, defining the expression “hate speech” and make recommendations to the Parliament to strengthen the Election Commission to curb the menace of “hate speeches” irrespective of whenever made. With these observations, the writ petition stands disposed of. = Pravasi Bhalai Sangathan …..Petitioner VERSUS Union of India & Ors. …..Respondents=2014(March. Part) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41312

   Art.32 of Indian Constitution -“hate  speech”-  PIL- against hate/derogatory speeches  made  by  people representatives/political/religious  leaders   on   religion, caste, region and ethnic lines - Apex court held that a  petition  calling  for  issuing certain directions which are incapable of  enforcement/execution can not be entertained.  - and further held that The National Human Rights Commission would be well within its power if  it decides to initiate suo-motu proceedings against the  alleged  authors of hate speech. However, in view  of  the  fact  that  the  Law  Commission  has undertaken the study as to whether the Election Commission  should  be conferred the power to de-recognise a political party disqualifying it or its members, if a party or its members commit the offences referred to hereinabove, we request the Law  Commission  to  also  examine  the issues raised herein thoroughly and also  to  consider,  if  it  deems proper, defining the expression “hate speech” and make recommendations to the Parliament to strengthen the Election Commission  to  curb  the menace of “hate speeches” irrespective of whenever made.  With these observations, the writ petition stands disposed of. =

a. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus declaring hate/derogatory speeches  made  by  people
              representatives/political/religious  leaders   on   religion,
              caste, region and ethnic lines are violative of  Articles  14
              (Equality before Law), 15 (Prohibition of  discrimination  on
              grounds of religion, race,  caste  or  place  of  birth),  16
              (Equality in matters of public employment), 19 (Protection of
              certain  rights  regarding  freedom  of  speech   etc.),   21
              (Protection of Life  and  Personal  Liberty)  of  Fundamental
              Rights read with Article 38 of the  Directive  Principles  of
              State Policy and Fundamental Duties  under  Article  51-A(a),
              (b), (c), (e), (f), (i) & (j) of the Constitution and  merits
              stringent pre-emptory action on part of the Central and State
              governments;


           b. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus declaring hate/derogatory speeches made on the lines
              of religion, caste, race and place of birth (region) to be an
              act against the Union of India which undermines the unity and
              integrity  of  the  country  and   militates   against   non-
              discrimination and fraternity;


           c. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus declaring that “Fraternity”  forms  part  of  “Basic
              Structure” of the Constitution;


           d. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus directing mandatory suo  motu  registration  of  FIR
              against authors of hate/derogatory speeches made on the lines
              of religion, caste, race and place of birth (region)  by  the
              Union and State Governments, in the alternative, constitution
              of a committee by the Union of  India  in  consultation  with
              this Court for taking cognizance of hate/derogatory  speeches
              delivered within the territory of India  with  the  power  to
              recommend  initiation  of  criminal  proceeding  against  the
              authors;


           e. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus  directing  mandatory  imposition  of  “gag   order”
              restraining the author of hate/derogatory  speeches  made  on
              the lines  of  religion,  caste,  race  and  place  of  birth
              (region) from  addressing  the  public  anywhere  within  the
              territory  of  India  till  the  disposal  of  the   criminal
              proceeding initiated against him as a necessary pre-condition
              for grant of bail by the Magistrate;
           f. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus directing speedy disposal  of  criminal  proceedings
              against authors of hate/derogatory speeches made on the lines
              of religion, caste, race and place of birth (region) within a
              period of 6 months;


           g. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus directing suspension of  membership  of  authors  of
              hate/derogatory speeches  made  on  the  lines  of  religion,
              caste, race and place of birth (region) from the  Union/State
              Legislature and other elected bodies till the final  disposal
              of the criminal proceedings;


           h. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus directing termination of membership  of  authors  of
              hate/derogatory speech made on the lines of religion,  caste,
              race  and  place  of  birth  (region)  from  the  Union/State
              Legislature and other elected bodies if found guilty;


           i. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus directing de-recognition of the political  party  of
              authors of  hate/derogatory  speech  made  on  the  lines  of
              religion, caste, race and place  of  birth  (region)  by  the
              Election Commission of India where the author is heading  the
              political party in exercise of power vested inter-alia  under
              Article 324 of the Constitution read  with  Sections  29A(5),
              123(3) of the Representation of  the  People  Act,  1951  and
              Section  16A  of  the  Election  Symbols   (Reservation   and
              Allotment) Order, 1968;


           j. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus directing the Union  of  India  to  have  concurrent
              jurisdiction to prosecute authors of hate/derogatory speeches
              in addition to the States in terms of the mandate of Articles
              227, 355 read with Article 38 of the Constitution which merit
              stringent  pre-emptory  action  on  part   of   the   Central
              Government;


           k. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus directing the Union of India and  respective  States
              to enforce Fundamental Duties under Article  51-A  (a),  (b),
              (c), (e), (f), (i)  &  (j)  of  the  Constitution  by  taking
              proactive steps in promoting national integration and harmony
              amongst the citizens of India;


           l. Issue such other appropriate writ or direction  that  may  be
              deemed  to  be  just  and  equitable   in   the   facts   and
              circumstances of the case and in the interest of justice.”



   It is desirable to put  reasonable  prohibition  on  unwarranted
      actions but there may arise difficulty in confining the prohibition to
      some manageable standard and in doing so, it may encompass  all  sorts
      of speeches which needs to be avoided . For a long time the US  courts
      were content in upholding legislations curtailing  “hate  speech”  and
      related issues.  However, of lately, the  courts  have  shifted  gears
      thereby  paving  the  way  for  myriad  of  rulings  which  side  with
      individual freedom of speech and expression as opposed to the order of
      a manageable society.  [See: Beauharnais v.  Illinois,  343  U.S.  250
      (1952); Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444   (1969); and R.A.V. v. City
      of St. Paul, 112 S. Ct. 2538 (1992)].


      26.   In view of the above, the law can be summarised  to  the  effect
      that if any  action  is  taken  by  any  person  which  is  arbitrary,
      unreasonable or otherwise in contravention of any statutory provisions
      or penal law, the court can grant relief keeping in view the  evidence
      before it and considering the statutory provisions involved.  However,
      the court should not pass any judicially unmanageable order  which  is
      incapable of enforcement.


      27.   As referred  to  herein  above,  the  statutory  provisions  and
      particularly the penal law  provide  sufficient  remedy  to  curb  the
      menace of “hate speeches”.  Thus, person aggrieved must resort to  the
      remedy provided under a particular statute. The root of the problem is
      not the  absence  of  laws  but  rather  a  lack  of  their  effective
      execution. Therefore, the executive as well as civil  society  has  to
      perform its role in  enforcing  the  already  existing  legal  regime.
      Effective regulation of “hate speeches” at all levels is  required  as
      the authors of such speeches can be booked under  the  existing  penal
      law and all the law enforcing agencies must ensure that  the  existing
      law is not rendered  a  dead  letter.  Enforcement  of  the  aforesaid
      provisions is required  being   in  consonance  with  the  proposition
      “salus reipublicae suprema lex” (safety of the state  is  the  supreme
      law).


      28.   Thus, we should not entertain a  petition  calling  for  issuing
      certain directions which are incapable of  enforcement/execution.  The
      National Human Rights Commission would be well within its power if  it
      decides to initiate suo-motu proceedings against the  alleged  authors
      of hate speech.
           However, in view  of  the  fact  that  the  Law  Commission  has
      undertaken the study as to whether the Election Commission  should  be
      conferred the power to de-recognise a political party disqualifying it
      or its members, if a party or its members commit the offences referred
      to hereinabove, we request the Law  Commission  to  also  examine  the
      issues raised herein thoroughly and also  to  consider,  if  it  deems
      proper, defining the expression “hate speech” and make recommendations
      to the Parliament to strengthen the Election Commission  to  curb  the
      menace of “hate speeches” irrespective of whenever made.


            With these observations, the writ petition stands disposed of.


           A copy of the judgment be sent to the Hon’ble  Chairman  of  Law
      Commission of India.
2014(March. Part) judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41312
B.S. CHAUHAN, M.Y. EQBAL, A.K. SIKRI
                                                            REPORTABLE


                         IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                         CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION


                      WRIT PETITION (C) No. 157 OF 2013




      Pravasi                        Bhalai                        Sangathan
      …..Petitioner


                                   VERSUS


      Union             of             India             &              Ors.
      …..Respondents








                             J U D G M E N T




      Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN, J.


      1.    The instant writ petition has been preferred, by an organisation
      dedicated to the welfare of inter-state migrants,  in  the  nature  of
      public  interest  seeking  exercise  of  this  court’s   extraordinary
      jurisdiction under Article 32  of  the  Constitution  of  India,  1950
      (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Constitution’) to remedy the concerns
      that have arisen because of “hate  speeches”,  through  the  following
      prayers:
           a. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus declaring hate/derogatory speeches  made  by  people
              representatives/political/religious  leaders   on   religion,
              caste, region and ethnic lines are violative of  Articles  14
              (Equality before Law), 15 (Prohibition of  discrimination  on
              grounds of religion, race,  caste  or  place  of  birth),  16
              (Equality in matters of public employment), 19 (Protection of
              certain  rights  regarding  freedom  of  speech   etc.),   21
              (Protection of Life  and  Personal  Liberty)  of  Fundamental
              Rights read with Article 38 of the  Directive  Principles  of
              State Policy and Fundamental Duties  under  Article  51-A(a),
              (b), (c), (e), (f), (i) & (j) of the Constitution and  merits
              stringent pre-emptory action on part of the Central and State
              governments;


           b. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus declaring hate/derogatory speeches made on the lines
              of religion, caste, race and place of birth (region) to be an
              act against the Union of India which undermines the unity and
              integrity  of  the  country  and   militates   against   non-
              discrimination and fraternity;


           c. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus declaring that “Fraternity”  forms  part  of  “Basic
              Structure” of the Constitution;


           d. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus directing mandatory suo  motu  registration  of  FIR
              against authors of hate/derogatory speeches made on the lines
              of religion, caste, race and place of birth (region)  by  the
              Union and State Governments, in the alternative, constitution
              of a committee by the Union of  India  in  consultation  with
              this Court for taking cognizance of hate/derogatory  speeches
              delivered within the territory of India  with  the  power  to
              recommend  initiation  of  criminal  proceeding  against  the
              authors;


           e. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus  directing  mandatory  imposition  of  “gag   order”
              restraining the author of hate/derogatory  speeches  made  on
              the lines  of  religion,  caste,  race  and  place  of  birth
              (region) from  addressing  the  public  anywhere  within  the
              territory  of  India  till  the  disposal  of  the   criminal
              proceeding initiated against him as a necessary pre-condition
              for grant of bail by the Magistrate;
           f. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus directing speedy disposal  of  criminal  proceedings
              against authors of hate/derogatory speeches made on the lines
              of religion, caste, race and place of birth (region) within a
              period of 6 months;


           g. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus directing suspension of  membership  of  authors  of
              hate/derogatory speeches  made  on  the  lines  of  religion,
              caste, race and place of birth (region) from the  Union/State
              Legislature and other elected bodies till the final  disposal
              of the criminal proceedings;


           h. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus directing termination of membership  of  authors  of
              hate/derogatory speech made on the lines of religion,  caste,
              race  and  place  of  birth  (region)  from  the  Union/State
              Legislature and other elected bodies if found guilty;


           i. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus directing de-recognition of the political  party  of
              authors of  hate/derogatory  speech  made  on  the  lines  of
              religion, caste, race and place  of  birth  (region)  by  the
              Election Commission of India where the author is heading  the
              political party in exercise of power vested inter-alia  under
              Article 324 of the Constitution read  with  Sections  29A(5),
              123(3) of the Representation of  the  People  Act,  1951  and
              Section  16A  of  the  Election  Symbols   (Reservation   and
              Allotment) Order, 1968;


           j. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus directing the Union  of  India  to  have  concurrent
              jurisdiction to prosecute authors of hate/derogatory speeches
              in addition to the States in terms of the mandate of Articles
              227, 355 read with Article 38 of the Constitution which merit
              stringent  pre-emptory  action  on  part   of   the   Central
              Government;


           k. Issue appropriate  writ,  order,  decree  in  the  nature  of
              mandamus directing the Union of India and  respective  States
              to enforce Fundamental Duties under Article  51-A  (a),  (b),
              (c), (e), (f), (i)  &  (j)  of  the  Constitution  by  taking
              proactive steps in promoting national integration and harmony
              amongst the citizens of India;


           l. Issue such other appropriate writ or direction  that  may  be
              deemed  to  be  just  and  equitable   in   the   facts   and
              circumstances of the case and in the interest of justice.”


      2.    Shri Basava Prabhu S. Patil, learned senior counsel appearing on
      behalf of the petitioner, has submitted that the reliefs sought by the
      petitioner is in consonance with the scheme of our Constitution as the
      “hate speeches” delivered by elected  representatives,  political  and
      religious leaders mainly based on religion, caste, region or ethnicity
      militate against the Constitutional idea of  fraternity  and  violates
      Articles 14, 15, 19, 21 read with Article 38 of the  Constitution  and
      further is in derogation of the fundamental duties under Article  51-A
      (a), (b), (c), (e), (f), (i), (j) of the  Constitution  and  therefore
      warrant stringent pre-emptory action on the part of Central and  State
      Governments.  The existing law dealing with the subject matter is  not
      sufficient to cope with the menace of “hate speeches”. Hate/derogatory
      speech has not been defined under any penal law.  Accolade is given to
      the author of such speeches and they also get political patronage.  In
      such  fact-situation,  this  Court  cannot  remain  merely  a   silent
      spectator,  rather  has  to  play  an   important   role   and   issue
      guidelines/directions in exercise of its powers under Article  142  of
      the Constitution which are necessary  for  the  said  purpose  as  the
      existing legal frame work is not sufficient to control the  menace  of
      “hate  speeches”.   Therefore,  this  Court  should  grant   aforesaid
      reliefs.


      3.    Shri Sidharth Luthra, learned ASG, Shri Rajiv Nanda, Shri Gaurav
      Bhatia, learned AAG for the State of U.P., Ms. Asha Gopalan Nair, Shri
      Gopal Singh, Ms. Ruchi Kohli, Shri C.D. Singh, and all other  standing
      counsel appearing on behalf of the respective States,  have  submitted
      that there are various statutory provisions dealing with  the  subject
      matter and the issue involved herein is a question of  enforcement  of
      the said statutory provisions and any person aggrieved can put the law
      into motion in such eventualities.
            Shri Sidharth Luthra, learned ASG, has  further  submitted  that
      the issue of  decriminalisation  of  politics  as  part  of  electoral
      reforms is under consideration before this Court in Writ Petition  (C)
      No. 536 of 2011 and in the said matter, this Court had framed  certain
      issues and referred the matter to the Law Commission of India to study
      the subject with regard to the  Representation  of  People  Act,  1951
      (hereinafter referred to  as  “R.P.Act”)   and  may  make  appropriate
      suggestions (report) to the  Government  of  India  vide  order  dated
      16.12.2013 and, thus, Shri Luthra has suggested that in case there  is
      some  deficiency  in  law,  this  Court  should  not  act  as   super-
      legislature, rather make a recommendation to  the  Law  Commission  to
      undertake  further study and submit its report to  the  Government  of
      India for its consideration/acceptance.


      4.    Ms. Meenakshi Arora, learned senior counsel appearing on  behalf
      of the Election Commission of India,  has  submitted  that  there  are
      various  provisions  like  Section  29A(5)  &  (7)  of  the  R.P.  Act
      empowering  the  Commission  to  examine  the  documents  filed  by  a
      political party at the time of its registration and the application so
      filed must be  accompanied  by  its  constitution/rules  which  should
      contain a specific provision to the effect that  the  association/body
      would bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of  India  as
      by law established and to the principles of socialism, secularism  and
      democracy and that they would uphold the  sovereignty,  integrity  and
      unity  of  India.   However,  it  has  been  suggested  that  Election
      Commission  does  not  have  the  power  to  deregister/derecognise  a
      political party under the R.P. Act once it  has  been  registered.   A
      registered political party is entitled to recognition as  a  State  or
      national party only  upon  fulfilling  the  conditions  laid  down  in
      paragraph 6A or 6B of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment)
      Order,  1968  (hereinafter  referred  to  as  “Symbols  Order”).   The
      Election Commission in exercise of its powers under Paragraph  16A  of
      Symbols Order,  can take appropriate action against a political  party
      on its failure to observe model code of conduct or in case  the  party
      fails to observe or follow the lawful directions and  instructions  of
      the Election Commission. The model code of  conduct  provides  certain
      guidelines inter-alia that no party or candidate shall indulge in  any
      activity which may aggravate existing  differences  or  create  mutual
      hatred or cause tension between two different castes and  communities,
      religious or linguistic and no political party shall make an appeal on
      the basis of caste  or  communal  feelings  for  securing  votes.   It
      further provides that no religious place shall be used  as  forum  for
      election propaganda.  However, the Election Commission only has  power
      to control hate speeches during the subsistence of the code of conduct
      and not otherwise.


      5.    The Law Commission of India has prepared  a  consultation  paper
      and studied the matter further on various issues including whether the
      existing  provisions  (Constitutional  or   Statutory)   relating   to
      disqualification to contest elections need to be amended?
           The Law Commission  had  earlier  in  its  1998  recommendations
      emphasised on  the  need  to  strengthen  the  provision  relating  to
      disqualification and in view thereof, it has  been  submitted  by  Ms.
      Arora that it is only for the legislature to amend the law and empower
      the Election Commission to perform a balancing act  in  following  the
      mandate of the relevant Constitutional and statutory provisions.


      6.    The Supreme  Court  of  Canada  in  Saskatchewan  (Human  Rights
      Commission) v. Whatcott 2013 SCC 11, succeeded in     bringing out the
      “human rights” obligations leading  to  control  on    publication  of
      “hate speeches” for protection of human rights defining the expression
      “hate speech” observing that the definition of  “hatred”  set  out  in
      Canada (Human Rights Commission) v. Taylor, (1990)  3  SCR  892,  with
      some modifications, provides a workable  approach to interpreting  the
      word “hatred” as is used in legislative provisions    prohibiting hate
      speech. Three main prescriptions must be followed. First, courts  must
      apply the hate speech prohibition  objectively.  The  question  courts
      must ask is whether a reasonable person, aware  of  the  context   and
      circumstances, would view the expression  as  exposing  the  protected
      group to hatred. Second, the legislative term “hatred” or  “hatred  or
      contempt” must be interpreted as being  restricted  to  those  extreme
      manifestations   of   the   emotion    described    by    the    words
      “detestation” and “vilification”. This filters out  expression  which,
      while  repugnant  and  offensive,  does  not  incite  the   level   of
      abhorrence,  delegitimisation  and  rejection   that   risks   causing
      discrimination or   other harmful effects. Third, tribunals must focus
      their analysis on the  effect  of  the  expression  at  issue,  namely
      whether it is likely to expose the targeted person or group to  hatred
      by others.  The  repugnancy  of  the  ideas  being  expressed  is  not
      sufficient to justify restricting the    expression,  and  whether  or
      not the  author  of  the  expression  intended  to  incite  hatred  or
      discriminatory treatment is irrelevant. The key is  to  determine  the
      likely effect of the expression on its audience, keeping in  mind  the
      legislative      objectives      to      reduce      or      eliminate
      discrimination.
      7.    Hate speech is an effort to  marginalise  individuals  based  on
      their membership in a group. Using expression that exposes  the  group
      to hatred, hate speech seeks to delegitimise group members in the eyes
      of the majority, reducing their social standing and acceptance  within
      society. Hate speech, therefore,  rises  beyond  causing  distress  to
            individual group members. It can have a  societal  impact.  Hate
      speech lays the groundwork for later, broad attacks on vulnerable that
      can range from discrimination, to ostracism, segregation, deportation,
         violence and, in the most extreme cases, to genocide.  Hate  speech
      also impacts a protected group’s ability to respond to the substantive
      ideas under debate, thereby placing a serious barrier  to  their  full
                 participation in our democracy.


      8.    Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th Edn. defines  the  expression  ‘hate
      speech’ as under:
           “Speech   that   carries   no    meaning    other    than    the
           expression of hatred for some group, such as a particular  race,
           especially     in      circumstances      in      which      the
           communication is likely to provoke violence.”




      9.    In Ramesh v. Union of India, AIR 1988 SC 775, while dealing with
      the subject, this Court observed:
           “..that the  effect  of  the  words  must  be  judged  from  the
           standards    of    reasonable,    strong-minded,    firm     and
           courageous men, and not those of weak and vacillating minds, nor
           of those who scent danger in every hostile point of view.”


      10.   Given such disastrous consequences of hate speeches, the  Indian
      legal framework has enacted several statutory provisions dealing  with
      the subject which are referred to as under:


      |Sl.No. |Statute                           |Provisions          |
|1.     |Indian Penal Code, 1860           |Sections 124A, 153A,|
|       |                                  |153B, 295-A, 298,   |
|       |                                  |505(1), 505(2)      |
|2.     |The Representation of People Act, |Sections 8, 123     |
|       |1951                              |(3A), 125           |
|3.     |Information Technology Act, 2000 &|Sections 66A, 69,   |
|       |Information Technology            |69A                 |
|       |(Intermediaries guidelines) Rules,|Rule 3(2)(b), Rule  |
|       |2011                              |3(2)(i)             |
|4.     |Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973  |Sections 95, 107,   |
|       |                                  |144, 151, 160       |
|5.     |Unlawful Activities (Prevention)  |Sections 2(f), 10,  |
|       |Act, 1967                         |11, 12              |
|6.     |Protection of Civil Rights Act,   |Section 7           |
|       |1955                              |                    |
|7.     |Religious Institutions (Prevention|Sections 3 and 6    |
|       |of Misuse) Act, 1980              |                    |
|8.     |The Cable Television Networks     |Sections            |
|       |(Regulation) Act, 1995 and The    |5,6,11,12,16, 17,   |
|       |Cable Television Network (Rules), |19, 20 & Rules 6 & 7|
|       |1994                              |                    |
|9.     |The Cinematographers Act, 1952    |Sections 4, 5B, 7   |


      11.   In addition thereto, the Central Government has always  provided
      support to the State Governments and Union  Territory  administrations
      in several ways to maintain communal harmony in  the  country  and  in
      case of need the Central Government  also  sends  advisories  in  this
      regard from time to time.  However,  in  such  cases,  as  police  and
      public  order  being  a  State  subject  under  the  7th  Schedule  of
      Constitution, the responsibility of registration  and  prosecution  of
      crime including those involved in hate speeches, primarily rests  with
      the respective State Governments.


      12.   The Central Government has also  issued  revised  guidelines  to
      promote communal harmony to the States and Union Territories  in  2008
      which provides inter-alia that strict action should be  taken  against
      anyone inflaming passions and stroking communal tension by intemperate
      and inflammatory speeches and utterances.
            The  “Guidelines  On  Communal  Harmony,  2008”  issued  by  the
      Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of  India  seek  to  prevent  and
      avoid  communal  disturbances/riots  and  in   the   event   of   such
      disturbances occurring, action to control the  same  and  measures  to
      provide assistance and relief to the  affected  persons  are  provided
      therein including rehabilitation.  The detailed guidelines  have  been
      issued  to   take   preventive/remedial   measures   and   to   impose
      responsibilities of  the  administration  and  to  enforce  the  same.
      Various modalities have been formulated to deal with the  issue  which
      have been emphasised on participation of the stake holders.


      13.   So far as the statutory provisions, as referred to  hereinabove,
      are concerned, Section 124A of Indian Penal  Code,  1860  (hereinafter
      referred to as the ‘IPC’)  makes sedition an offence punishable, i.e.,
      when any person attempts to bring into hatred or contempt or  attempts
      to excite disaffection towards  the  Government  established  by  law.
      (Vide: Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar, AIR 1962 SC 955)


      14.   Sections 153A and 153B  IPC makes any act which promotes  enmity
      between the groups on grounds of religions and race etc. or which  are
      prejudicial  to  national  integration  punishable.  The  purpose   of
      enactment of such a provision was to “check fissiparous  communal  and
      separatist tendencies and  secure  fraternity  so  as  to  ensure  the
      dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation”.   Undoubtedly,
      religious freedom may be  accompanied  by  liberty  of  expression  of
      religious opinions together with the liberty to  reasonably  criticise
      the religious beliefs of others, but as has been held by  courts  time
      and again, with powers come responsibility.
      15.   Section 295A IPC deals with offences  related  to  religion  and
      provides for a punishment upto 3 years for speech, writings  or  signs
      which are made with deliberate and malicious intention to  insult  the
      religion or the religious beliefs of  any  class  of  citizens.   This
      Court in Ramji Lal Modi v. State of U.P., AIR 1957 SC 620, has  upheld
      the Constitutional validity of the section.


      16.   Likewise Section 298 IPC provides that any act  with  deliberate
      and malicious intention of  hurting  the  religious  feelings  of  any
      person is punishable.  However,   Section 295A IPC deals with far more
      serious offences.
            Furthermore, Section 505(2) IPC provides that making  statements
      that create or promote enmity, hatred or  ill-will  between  different
      classes of society is a punishable offence involving imprisonment upto
      three years or fine or both.


      17.   The Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955, which  was  enacted  to
      supplement the constitutional mandate of  abolishing  ‘untouchability’
      in India, contains  provisions  penalizing  hate  speech  against  the
      historically marginalised ‘dalit’ communities. Section 7(1)(c) of  the
      Act prohibits the incitement  or  encouragement  of  the  practice  of
      ‘untouchability’ in any form (by words, either spoken or  written,  or
      by signs or by visible representations or otherwise) by any person  or
      class of persons  or  the  public  generally.  Similarly,  intentional
      public humiliation of members of the ‘Scheduled Castes’ and ‘Scheduled
      Tribes’ is penalized under the  Scheduled  Castes  and  the  Scheduled
      Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

      18.   Section 123(3) of the R.P.  Act,  provides  inter-alia  that  no
      party or candidate shall appeal for vote on the  ground  of  religion,
      race, caste, community, language etc.
           Section 125 of the R.P.Act further restrains any political party
      or the candidate to  create  feelings  of  enmity  or  hatred  between
      different classes of citizens  of  India  by  making  such  an  act  a
      punishable offence.


      19.   Article 20(2) of the International Covenant on Civil & Political
      Rights,  1966  (ICCPR)  restrains  advocacy  of  national,  racial  or
      religious hatred that may result  in  incitement  for  discrimination,
      hostility or violence classifying it as prohibited by law.
           Similarly Articles 4 and 6 of the  International  Convention  on
      the Elimination of All Forms of Racial  Discrimination,  1965  (lCERD)
      prohibits the elements of hate speech and mandates the  member  states
      to make a law prohibiting any kind of hate speech through  a  suitable
      framework of law.


      20.   Thus, it is evident that the Legislature  had  already  provided
      sufficient and effective remedy for prosecution  of  the  author,  who
      indulge in such activities.  In spite of the above, petitioner  sought
      reliefs which tantamount to legislation. This Court  has  persistently
      held that our Constitution clearly provides for separation  of  powers
      and  the  court  merely  applies  the  law  that  it  gets  from   the
      legislature.  Consequently,  the  Anglo-Saxon  legal   tradition   has
      insisted that the judges should only reflect the law regardless of the
      anticipated consequences, considerations of fairness or public  policy
      and the judge is simply not authorised to legislate law. “If there  is
      a law, Judges can certainly enforce it, but Judges cannot create a law
      and seek to enforce it.” The court cannot re-write, re-cast or reframe
      the legislation for the very good reason  that  it  has  no  power  to
      legislate.  The very power to legislate has not been conferred on  the
      courts. However, of lately, judicial activism of the  superior  courts
      in India has raised pubic eyebrow time  and  again.   Though  judicial
      activism is regarded as  the  active  interpretation  of  an  existing
      provision with the view of enhancing the utility  of  legislation  for
      social betterment in accordance  with  the  Constitution,  the  courts
      under its garb have actively strived  to  achieve  the  constitutional
      aspirations of socio-economic  justice.  In  many  cases,  this  Court
      issued  various  guidelines/directions  to  prevent  fraud  upon   the
      statutes, or when it was found  that  certain  beneficiary  provisions
      were  being  mis-used  by  the  undeserving  persons,  depriving   the
      legitimate claims of eligible persons. (See: S.P. Gupta  v.  Union  of
      India & Anr., AIR 1982 SC 149; Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of  India
      & Ors., AIR 1984 SC 802;  Union  of  India  &  Anr.  v.  Deoki  Nandan
      Aggarwal,  AIR  1992  SC   96;   Supreme   Court   Advocates-on-Record
      Association & Ors. v. Union of India, AIR 1994 SC 268; Vishaka &  Ors.
      v. State of Rajasthan & Ors., AIR 1997 SC  3011;  Divisional  Manager,
      Aravali Golf Club & Anr. v. Chander Hass & Anr., (2008) 1 SCC 683; and
      Common Cause (A Regd. Society) v. Union of India & Ors., (2008) 5  SCC
      511).


      21.   While explaining the scope of Article 141 of  the  Constitution,
      in Nand Kishore v. State of Punjab, (1995) 6 SCC 614, this Court  held
      as under:
           “Their Lordships decisions declare the existing law but  do  not
           enact any fresh law, is not in keeping with the plenary function
           of the Supreme Court under Article 141 of the Constitution,  for
           the Court is not merely the interpreter of the law as  existing,
           but much beyond that. The Court as a wing of  the  State  is  by
           itself a source of law. The law is what the Court says it is.”


      22.   Be that as it may, this Court has  consistently  clarified  that
      the directions have been issued by the Court only when there has  been
      a total vacuum in law, i.e. complete absence of active law to  provide
      for the effective enforcement of a basic human right. In case there is
      inaction on the part of the executive for whatsoever reason, the court
      has stepped in, in  exercise  of  its  constitutional  obligations  to
      enforce the law. In case of vacuum of legal  regime  to  deal  with  a
      particular  situation  the  court  may  issue  guidelines  to  provide
      absolution till such time as the legislature acts to perform its  role
      by enacting proper legislation to cover the field. Thus, direction can
      be  issued  only  in  a  situation  where  the  will  of  the  elected
      legislature has not yet been expressed.

      23.    Further,  the  court  should  not  grant  a  relief   or   pass
      order/direction which is not capable of implementation.  This Court in
      State of U.P. & Anr. v. U.P. Rajya Khanij Vikas Nigam Sangarsh  Samiti
      & Ors., (2008) 12 SCC 675, has held as under:
           “48. To us, one of the considerations in such matters is whether
           an  order  passed  or  direction  issued   is   susceptible   of
           implementation and enforcement, and if  it  is  not  implemented
           whether appropriate proceedings including proceedings for wilful
           disobedience of the order of the Court can be initiated  against
           the opposite party. The direction issued by the High Court falls
           short of this test  and  on  that  ground  also,  the  order  is
           vulnerable.”                                           (Emphasis
           added)




      24.   Judicial  review  is  subject  to  the  principles  of  judicial
      restraint and must not become unmanageable in other  aspects.   (Vide:
      King Emperor v. Khwaja Nazir Ahmed, AIR 1945 PC 18; State of Haryana &
      Ors. v. Ch. Bhajan Lal & Ors. v., AIR 1992 SC 604; and Akhilesh  Yadav
      Etc. v. Vishwanath Chaturvedi, (2013) 2   SCC 1).


      25.   It is desirable to put  reasonable  prohibition  on  unwarranted
      actions but there may arise difficulty in confining the prohibition to
      some manageable standard and in doing so, it may encompass  all  sorts
      of speeches which needs to be avoided . For a long time the US  courts
      were content in upholding legislations curtailing  “hate  speech”  and
      related issues.  However, of lately, the  courts  have  shifted  gears
      thereby  paving  the  way  for  myriad  of  rulings  which  side  with
      individual freedom of speech and expression as opposed to the order of
      a manageable society.  [See: Beauharnais v.  Illinois,  343  U.S.  250
      (1952); Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444   (1969); and R.A.V. v. City
      of St. Paul, 112 S. Ct. 2538 (1992)].


      26.   In view of the above, the law can be summarised  to  the  effect
      that if any  action  is  taken  by  any  person  which  is  arbitrary,
      unreasonable or otherwise in contravention of any statutory provisions
      or penal law, the court can grant relief keeping in view the  evidence
      before it and considering the statutory provisions involved.  However,
      the court should not pass any judicially unmanageable order  which  is
      incapable of enforcement.


      27.   As referred  to  herein  above,  the  statutory  provisions  and
      particularly the penal law  provide  sufficient  remedy  to  curb  the
      menace of “hate speeches”.  Thus, person aggrieved must resort to  the
      remedy provided under a particular statute. The root of the problem is
      not the  absence  of  laws  but  rather  a  lack  of  their  effective
      execution. Therefore, the executive as well as civil  society  has  to
      perform its role in  enforcing  the  already  existing  legal  regime.
      Effective regulation of “hate speeches” at all levels is  required  as
      the authors of such speeches can be booked under  the  existing  penal
      law and all the law enforcing agencies must ensure that  the  existing
      law is not rendered  a  dead  letter.  Enforcement  of  the  aforesaid
      provisions is required  being   in  consonance  with  the  proposition
      “salus reipublicae suprema lex” (safety of the state  is  the  supreme
      law).


      28.   Thus, we should not entertain a  petition  calling  for  issuing
      certain directions which are incapable of  enforcement/execution.  The
      National Human Rights Commission would be well within its power if  it
      decides to initiate suo-motu proceedings against the  alleged  authors
      of hate speech.
           However, in view  of  the  fact  that  the  Law  Commission  has
      undertaken the study as to whether the Election Commission  should  be
      conferred the power to de-recognise a political party disqualifying it
      or its members, if a party or its members commit the offences referred
      to hereinabove, we request the Law  Commission  to  also  examine  the
      issues raised herein thoroughly and also  to  consider,  if  it  deems
      proper, defining the expression “hate speech” and make recommendations
      to the Parliament to strengthen the Election Commission  to  curb  the
      menace of “hate speeches” irrespective of whenever made.


            With these observations, the writ petition stands disposed of.


           A copy of the judgment be sent to the Hon’ble  Chairman  of  Law
      Commission of India.


                                                              …………………………….J.

    (Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN)


                                                              …………………………….J.

    (M.Y. EQBAL)


                                                              …………………………….J.

    (A.K. SIKRI)

      New Delhi,
      March 12, 2014.










           -----------------------
22


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.