The Supreme Court delivered a firm message on Friday, deeming the calls to boycott the Muslim community in the aftermath of the recent outbreak of violence in Nuh, Haryana, as utterly unacceptable. This resounding stance emerged from the case of Shaheen Abdullah versus the Union of India, which was being deliberated by a bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SV Bhatti.
In a bid to address the unsettling situation, the justices proposed the formation of a committee, to be headed by the Director General of Police (DGP), entrusted with the responsibility of investigating the cases that ensued following the communal clashes in Nuh. Justice Khanna expressed the crucial need for harmony and amicability among the various communities, underscoring the gravity of the matter. “This is not acceptable. This is my thought,” he remarked, while suggesting the establishment of a committee comprising three to four officers designated by the DGP. This committee would diligently scrutinize all pertinent materials, with the ability to ascertain their authenticity, and subsequently issue directives to the concerned officers. Justice Khanna also underscored the importance of sensitizing the police force at different levels.
The origins of this case trace back to a plea filed by Shaheen Abdullah, who sought action against the alarming calls for boycotting and isolating Muslims following the recent spate of communal violence in Nuh district, Haryana. The catalyst for this plea was a video that surfaced on social media platforms on August 2. The video showcased members of the Samhast Hindu Samaj walking through a neighborhood in Hisar, Haryana, where they issued explicit warnings to residents and shopkeepers. The warnings essentially threatened that if they persisted in employing or harboringMuslims, their businesses would face a boycott. Astonishingly, these warnings were issued in the presence of police officials, thereby exacerbating the gravity of the situation.
The plea brought forth the detrimental impact of such rallies, which relentlessly demonize communities and openly propagate violence and killings. The petitioner convincingly argued that the consequences of these rallies, far from being confined to the area in which they occur, possess the potential to ignite communal strife and unleash widespread violence across the nation.
Consequently, the petitioner implored the Court to direct the State and district administrations to prevent the occurrence of rallies featuring hate speeches, highlighting the disastrous consequences such events might have on communal harmony.
During the proceedings, the Central government, represented by additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, clarified its stance on hate speech, affirming that it does not support such inflammatory rhetoric. Nevertheless, he acknowledged the challenges in effectively addressing hate speech in certain locales.
In a notable intervention, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal underscored the perturbing fact that the contentious speeches were made in the presence of law enforcement officers.
Ultimately, the bench opted to adjourn the case until the following Friday, August 18, indicating the gravity of the matter and the careful considerations required.
The violence in Nuh erupted on July 31 when a mob attacked a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) procession, spurred by unfounded rumors that cow vigilante Monu Manesar would be partaking in the march. Tragically, this incident resulted in at least five fatalities and left over 70 individuals injured, including police personnel. In the wake of the unrest, law enforcement registered around 40 cases and apprehended more than 80 individuals in connection with the communal violence.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) responded by announcing their intention to stage protests to condemn the violence in the National Capital Region (NCR). In a bid to quell potential turmoil, an application was submitted to the Supreme Court seeking an injunction against these protests.
Subsequently, on August 2, the Supreme Court made a significant decision by declining to stay the protests. Instead, it directed both the State government and the Delhi police to ensure that the protest rallies remained devoid of hate speech and any form of violence. This directive reinforced the Court’s commitment to maintaining social order while respecting the freedom of expression.
In summary, the Supreme Court’s unequivocal stance against the boycott calls targeting the Muslim community following the Nuh violence underscores its unwavering commitment to upholding communal harmony and safeguarding individual rights. The proposal to form a committee to investigate the aftermath of the communal clashes exhibits the Court’s proactive approach in addressing a complex issue with potential far-reaching consequences. As the case unfolds, its implications for hate speech, communal relations, and social stability remain of paramount importance, further highlighting the judiciary’s role in shaping a just and harmonious society.