The Supreme Court on Friday, while expressing concern over the hate speeches in the country, observed “where have we reached in the name of religion” and ordered suo moto action against offenders without looking into religion.

A bench of justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy said that hate speeches are “disturbing”, especially for a country that is democratic and religion-neutral.

“Where have we reached? What have we reduced religion to? It is tragic. And we speak of scientific temper,” observed the bench.

The bench also issued notices to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand police and asked them to file a report on what action has been taken against such offences within their jurisdiction.

It further ordered that state governments and police authorities should take suo motu action in cases of hate speeches without waiting for the registration of a formal complaint. The apex court said authorities to take action against offenders without looking at their religion of them.

Where have we reached? What have we reduced religion to? It is tragic. And we speak of scientific temper
An SC bench of justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy

Failure in taking action would attract contempt of court against the erring officials, it added.

It expressed shock at some of the statements and hates speeches made against minority communities during recent religious congregations.

The top court in its order said, “The Respondents (Delhi, UP and Uttarakhand police) will issue directions to their subordinates in this regard without looking at the religion of the accused so that the secular nature of India is preserved.”

The apex court was hearing a plea seeking its urgent intervention to stop the alleged growing menace of targeting and terrorising the Muslim Community in India.

The petition filed by petitioner Shaheen Abdullah, a journalist working with the Maktoob media, sought direction to the Centre and the State governments to initiate an independent, credible and impartial investigation into the incidents of hate crimes and hate speeches.

It further sought directions to initiate appropriate action under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and other relevant penal laws against the speakers and organisations engaging in such hate crimes.

The plea said news and media platforms that conduct programmes openly demonise the Muslim community.

“Public speeches openly call for genocide of Muslims or speeches calling for economic and social boycott of Muslims. Open participation by members of the ruling political party in delivering hate speeches targeting Muslims,” it added.

“Despite the fact that this Court has been cognisant of the genocidal speeches and hate crimes against Muslims made at several events and several orders have been passed by this Court directing the authorities concerned to take appropriate action, the circumstances of the country only seem to be worsening with the growing radicalisation of the Hindu community and the propagation of widespread hate against Muslims that also culminates into the physical abuse of Muslims by radical elements,” the plea stated.