FIRs Against Hate Speeches
The Supreme Court urged states on Friday to register FIRs on hate speech instances on their initiative and prosecute offenders without waiting for someone to file a complaint.
Points to Ponder:
- The Supreme Court of India urged states to file FIRs on hate speech instances on their initiative, rather than waiting for someone to file a complaint.
- The court’s order extends to all hate speech perpetrators, regardless of religion.
- The court emphasised the need of preserving the nation’s secular nature.
- The court emphasised the statutory requirements under which hate speech offenders should be prosecuted. Sections 153A, 153B, 295A, and 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) apply.
- States must ensure that cases of hate speech are prosecuted under the relevant sections of the IPC. Even if no complaint is received, cases will be registered on their initiative. Offenders should be prosecuted under the law.
- The State Director-Generals of Police are directed to notify their subordinates of the court’s order as soon as possible so that relevant action under the law can be taken.
- The court warned police officers that any hesitation to obey the injunction would be considered contempt.
- In October 2022, the court issued a similar decision requiring the quick filing of FIRs against persons who incite communal violence using hate remarks.
- The court deemed it “tragic what we have reduced religion to” in the twenty-first century and bemoaned the country’s “climate of hate” at the time.
- The October order was based on petitions that indicated the prevalence of hate comments directed against Muslims.
- Suo Moto cognizance is a Latin term that refers to an action performed by a court or central authority without receiving a formal complaint or petition.
- In India, the Supreme Court has the power of Suo Moto cognizance under Article 32 of the Constitution, while the High Courts have the power under Article 226 of the Constitution.
- Suo Moto cognizance authorises the court to hear a case that has been brought to its attention through media reports, letters, or any other source of information.
- Without waiting for a formal complaint or petition, the court may commence legal action on an issue based on its perception of public interest or violation of rights.
- Suo Moto cognizance is frequently employed by the court to achieve prompt justice in circumstances where the aggrieved party lacks the means or resources to approach the court.
- Suo Moto cognizance has been utilised by Indian courts in a range of circumstances, including cases of contempt of court, reopening of existing cases based on fresh evidence, and directing probes into new crimes.
- Suo Moto cognizance is viewed as a representation of judicial activism in India, where courts play an active role in protecting citizens’ rights and delivering justice.
- Suo Moto cognizance has been praised by the Indian judiciary in matters involving public interest, such as corruption, environmental pollution, and human rights breaches.
- Suo Moto cognizance is a crucial instrument for courts to use in ensuring that justice is served and individuals’ rights are maintained.
- However, Suo Moto cognizance has been criticised as an encroachment on the powers of the legislature and executive, and it can also be abused for political or other purposes.