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SC declines hate-speech petition

New Delhi, May 15: The Supreme Court today declined to entertain a public interest plea seeking action against political leaders who make inflammatory speeches during elections, saying there were adequate laws to deal with such complaints.

Justices Dipak Misra and N.V. Ramana said the petitioner was at liberty to approach the authorities concerned, including the Election Commission, for an appropriate remedy, before dismissing the petition.

The bench, in its judgment, said the PIL was initially used as a “tool” by this court to take care of certain situations that related to the poor, the underprivileged and those who did not have access to the court.

“Thereafter, from time to time, the concept of PIL changed with the change of nature and contours; the concept of environment and ecology, atrocity faced by individuals at the hands of the authorities and various other categories including people holding high office without qualification came in the realm of PIL.

“But a PIL pertaining to speeches delivered during the elections, we are afraid cannot be put on the pedestal of a real PIL. There are laws to take care of it. In the name of constitutional safeguards entering into this… arena in our considered opinion would not be within the constitutional parameters.

“In the result we are not persuaded by the lengthy and ambitious argument advanced by the petitioner to issue notice and directions. Accordingly the writ petition stands dismissed in limine (admission stage itself),” Justice Misra said in his judgment.

The PIL had been filed by Jafar Imam Naqvi, an advocate, who sought a directive for initiating criminal action against BJP leaders Giriraj Singh and others for alleged inflammatory speeches against certain communities.

The petitioner had referred to Singh’s alleged statement dubbing members of a particular community as “terrorists” and asking them to go to Pakistan.

But the apex court said there were enough provisions in the penal code and the Representation of the People Act to deal with such election-related speeches.

At a seminar on Tuesday, Singh had said: “Isn’t it true that all people caught in terrorist activities belong to one community? I am not trying to blame any one particular community. Why are all so-called secular parties silent on this?”

Singh, who contested on a BJP ticket from Nawada in Bihar, had earlier been slapped with an FIR for his comment that “those who oppose Narendra Modi should go to Pakistan”.