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DC Edit | Crack down on hate speech


Published on: October 24, 2022 | Updated on: October 25, 2022

The Supreme Court of India. (ANI File Photo)

India is one of the most diverse nations of the world, and it is incumbent upon each of the parts the sum of which make it whole to identify common cause with the others to make way for its successful sustenance and progress. The Indian Constitution is based on this very principle; and the Preamble celebrates an idea such as fraternity not for no reason. It is an attempt to cover the myriad fault lines in our society, asking people to be accommodative of one another and work for greater common good.

But there are elements which make political mileage by breaking the common cause and striking at the fault lines. They must be handled by the political executive but they being the beneficiaries of the game would hardly do the job, forcing the judiciary to step in. The directive of the Supreme Court last week to the directors-general of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to take action against people who were going around delivering hate speeches should be seen in this background.

The court, which quoted the Constitution mandating people to be scientific-minded and wondered where India has reached in the 21st century, has ordered officials to act on their own, instead of waiting for someone to lodge a formal complaint before acting. A failure to act will invite contempt of court proceedings, it has warned them.

The intent of the court must be welcome by all means but one may be sceptical about its results. This is because the power that the court exerts is moral and legal while those who benefit from hate speech are politicians. They know very well that Indian courts are selective in their action when it comes to issues that are political. Three years have passed but the Supreme Court has not yet found time to consider petitions against the governmental move that hollowed out Article 370 and made the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir an open jail. Such examples of inaction inadvertently strengthen those elements the court now says it wants to make accountable. One-off interventions can hardly work in a vast country. The problem at hand calls for sustained efforts. It is a great initiative if this is the first step the court has taken towards that end.