Govt against Subramanian Swamy’s plea for ending provision on hate speech

The Centre has sought in the Supreme Court the dismissal of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s plea challenging the constitutional validity of penal provisions on speeches and writings that could cause enmity and hatred among communities.

“That the challenge of the constitutionality of section 153A of the IPC on the ground that it violates the guarantee of the freedom of speech and expression must be rejected because the section seeks to punish only (a) such acts which have the tendency to promote enmity or hatred between different classes (b) such as which are prejudicial to the maintenance of the harmony between different classes and which have tendency to disturb public tranquillity.

“These acts are clearly calculated to disturb public order and show the limitation imposed by section 153A are in the interest of public order. Article 19(2) would, therefore, save section 153A as being within the scope of permissible legislative restriction on the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a),” said the affidavit filed by an Under Secretary in the Home Ministry.
The affidavit has also referred to a book written by the BJP leader.

“The petitioner has written a book named Terrorism in India where he has made hate speeches against the community of India. The book-its theme, its language, innuendos, similes it employs and the moral of its story, if any–in order to ascertain whether the offending passages read in the context of the book as a whole fall within the mischief of section 153A. “The book (is) to be considered in all its aspect as it contains matter which “promotes feelings of enmity and hatred between Hindus and Muslims in India.” Therefore, the petitioner has violated the sections of IPC,” the MHA said in its affidavit.

Swamy, who is facing a court case in Karimganj in Assam for allegedly delivering an inflammatory address at Kaziranga University, sought relief from the apex court in the case. He also challenged the constitutional validity of Section 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of the Indian Penal Code.
Earlier, on May 21, a judge of the apex court had recused from hearing his plea challenging the validity of some penal provisions relating to “hate speech”.

The apex court was hearing Swamy’s plea against the order of an Assam trial court issuing an NBW against him for failing to appear before it on March 19 in a case of alleged hate speech. The NBW was issued on June 1 by a court in Karimganj on a complaint accusing him of allegedly delivering an inflammatory address on March 15 at Kaziranga University. The Karimganj court had ordered that the arrest warrant be complied with on or before June 30. Proceedings in the case have been stayed in the Assam court.