By K Raveendran
At a time when the Supreme Court is slapping hefty fines for bringing public interest litigations that it sees as attempts to trivialise court proceedings, the decision by a bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana, and comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli to issue notice to the Uttarakhand government on a PIL filed by journalist Qurban Ali and Senior Advocate Anjana Prakash, a former judge of Patna High Court, sends out a clear message, irrespective of the nature of the final verdict.
The PIL sought criminal action with respect to the Haridwar Dharma Sansad conclave where hate speeches against Muslims were made. The hate speeches were delivered on 17th and 19th December, 2021 in two separate events – one organised in Haridwar by Yati Narsinghanand and the other in Delhi by ‘Hindu Yuva Vahini’. The court also allowed the petitioners to file complaints against planned similar events in the days ahead.
“We’re living in different times where slogans in the country have changed from Satyamev Jayate to Shashtramev Jayate”, Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of the petitioners, pointed out. He said he did not want to read out aloud contents from the speeches due to its highly offensive nature, but nevertheless requested the judges to read the quotes.
The speeches, which amounted to a call for genocide against Muslims and minorities, have shocked the collective conscience of India, with intellectuals, thinkers and social activists making fervent appeals to the authorities to take strict against those responsible so that the threat to India’s secular credentials is effectively addressed. One of the speakers had even called for the head of former prime minister Manmohan Singh for alleged appeasement of Muslims.
The content of the speeches at Dharma Sansad was so obnoxious that even prominent seers of Haridwar condemned it. Mahant Ravindra Puri of Mahanirvani Akhada said such remarks were “irresponsible” and “damaging to the religious and social harmony of India”. Jairam Ashram Peethadhishwar Brahmachari Brahmaswarup said that those making such statements cannot be called seers. “If seers speak such a language, people will cease to have faith in them. The speeches that were made at the Sansad have truly lowered Haridwar’s dignity,” he said.
Those who condemned the hate speeches included five former chiefs of staff of the armed forces, former bureaucrats and prominent citizens, who wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Chief Justice of India Justice N. V. Ramana, expressing their displeasure with the “open call of the genocide of Indian Muslims” at various events.
The ex- Chiefs included former Naval Staff Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas, Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, Admiral Arun Prakash, Admiral RK Dhowan, and former Chiefs of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi. They said they were seriously perturbed by the content of speeches made during a three-day religious conclave called a Dharma Sansad, of Hindu Sadhus and other leaders, particularly the repeated calls for establishing a Hindu Rashtra and, if required, picking up weapons and killing of India’s Muslims in the name of protecting Hinduism. They also drew attention to the oath taken at the Delhi event to make India a Hindu nation, by fighting and killing if necessary, and also the plans for more such seditious meetings in other places.
The petitioners of the PIL in the Supreme Court have also accused the police and the administration for failure to act effectively to prevent such happenings and pointed out the ominous implications of the administration often using hate speech to deal with dissent or criticism of the government while hate speeches cutting at the very roots of the country’s democratic and secular credentials are being taken lightly. (IPA Service)