SC junks plea on hate speeches during election

New Delhi, May 15 (IANS): The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed a PIL seeking direction to the Election Commission to take action against all the politicians and political parties indulging in hate campaign during electioneering including making hate speeches.

Dismissing the PIL, a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice N.V. Ramana in their judgment said: "We are not persuaded, despite the adroit labour and vehement arguments by the petitioner-in-person to issue notice (to the Election Commission) and accordingly, the writ petition, stands dismissed in limine."

Tracing the evolution of the PIL, the court said: "A public interest litigation pertaining to speeches delivered during election campaign, we are afraid, cannot be put on the pedestal of a real public interest litigation."

Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Misra said: "There are laws to take care of it. In the name of a constitutional safeguard entering into this kind of arena, in our convinced opinion, would not be within the constitutional parameters."

Petitioner, advocate Jafar Imam Naqvi who practises in the apex court, had sought direction to the Election Commission to take action against the leaders and parties engaged in hate campaign including delivering hate speeches.

The PIL petitioner had sought the derecognition of the parties whose leaders invoked hatred against other communities in their speeches.

Saying it would be inappropriate to entertain the PIL and give directions, the court in its order said: "The matter of handling hate speeches could be a matter of adjudication in an appropriate legal forum and may also have some impact in an election disputes raised under the Representation of People Act, 1951."

The court said this while addressing the petitioner's contention that apex court, being the guardian of the constitution, was obligated to issue notice to the Election Commission, call for its response and issue appropriate directions.

Declining to entertain Naqvi's plea, the court said that "the Election Commission might have taken note of it (hate speeches) and initiated certain action."

The seminal question that arises for its consideration is whether in exercise of power under article 32 of the constitution, should it enter into the arena of effect and impact of election speeches rendered during the election campaign in a public interest litigation, the court said.

On Naqvi's submission that since the infancy of the constitution, the apex court has not declined to declare a law wherever it has found that it is unconstitutional, the court said that all its earlier rulings relied upon by him in support of his plea had nothing to do the issue raised by him.

The petitioner had contended that hate speeches during the electioneering were totally unwarranted and could endanger the safety and security of public at large and undermine the structuralism of democratic body polity.

Urging the court's intervention, he had contended that the hate speeches had the potential of disturbing the social equilibrium of the society and creating a crack in the multi-faceted fabric.


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