New Delhi - In an impassioned letter to the Chief Justice of India, on Thursday, the Delhi High Court Women Lawyers Forum has manifested its profound commitment to preserving communal harmony, upholding the rule of law, and fostering a society of inclusivity. This coalition as women, mothers, and officers of the court has approached the Chief Justice DY Chandrachud to address a pressing concern - the surge of hate speech and divisive content circulating on social media platforms, particularly in the Nuh region of Haryana.
As vigilant advocates for justice and social cohesion, the Forum has underscored the critical need for decisive action against the rampant spread of hate speech videos, which have the potential to incite communal strife and sectarian violence within the nation. Their call to action resonates with the highest echelons of the Indian judicial system, seeking intervention to curtail the burgeoning threat posed by these harmful narratives. The letter has been signed by some 100 lawyers.
Recent events in the Nuh region have drawn the Forum's attention to the disturbing videos disseminated across various social media channels. These videos spotlight hate speech and calls for targeted violence, generating distress and turbulence in the social fabric. The Forum's members, representing the legal fraternity and residing across Delhi and Gurgaon, have taken the initiative to address this alarming issue through their letter petition.
In a letter marked by a tone of urgency and commitment to justice, the Forum articulates a clear set of actions they implore the State Government to undertake. These actions, in accordance with the directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court, are designed to mitigate the menace of hate speech, thereby safeguarding the nation's unity and harmony:
(a) Fostering Dignity and Inclusivity: The Forum ardently calls upon the State Government to champion an environment of dignity and liberty for citizens of all religions in Haryana. By advocating for programs that celebrate inclusivity and bestow awards for acts of communal harmony, the Forum envisions a future where every citizen thrives in an atmosphere of respect and mutual understanding.
(b) Curtailing Hate Speech: In line with the Supreme Court's directives, the Forum urges the State Government to take proactive steps to prevent hate speech incidents. Recent court rulings have emphasized the imperative of harmony between communities and denounced hate speech, urging authorities to adopt stringent measures against its propagation.
(c) Tracking and Banning of Hate Videos
The Forum insists that the State Government must take immediate steps to track and ban videos promoting hate speech. These videos have the potential to cause harm to communities, places of worship, and may even encourage economic boycotts. This action, in accordance with the law, is paramount in preserving social harmony and preventing violence.
(d) Immediate Accountability: The Forum underscores the urgency of holding individuals accountable for committing acts of hate speech. By demanding swift action against the perpetrators, the Forum aligns its stance with the court's mandate to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the face of divisive and incendiary rhetoric.
The letter has references of previous orders while hearing various cases. Most recently, the Supreme Court on 11.08.2023 in Shaheen Abdullah vs Union of India observed that there has to be harmony and comity between the communities and that the calls to boycott the Muslim community after the recent communal violence at Nuh was "unacceptable This Court has accordingly mooted the idea of the DGP to constitute a committee to verify all material and issue directions to the concerned officer and that the Police needs to be naitized
In Tehseen S. Poonawalla V. Union of India and Others (2018) 9 SCC 501, this Court has recorded that mob vigilantism and mob violence have to be prevented by the governments by taking strict action. That rising intolerance and growing polarisation expressed through incidents of mob violence cannot be permitted to become the normal way of life or the normal state of law and order in the country. The State has a sacrosanct duty to protect its people from unruly elements and perpetrators of vigilantism, with utmost sincerity.
Closing with a firm reaffirmation of their commitment to communal harmony, the rule of law, and the values enshrined in the Indian democracy, the Delhi High Court Women Lawyers Forum underscores their unwavering dedication. As they await the Chief Justice's response, they stand ready to champion the cause of justice, unity, and peace within the nation.
They await a response from the CJI , hopeful that their call for action against hate speech will be heard and heeded.