New Delhi | A Supreme Court judge today recused from hearing a plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy challenging the validity of some penal provisions relating to hate speech. Justice U U Lalit, who is part of the vacation bench along with Justice A K Sikri, said that he would not be part of the bench which would hear Swamy’s present plea, but gave no reason.
Besides provisions relating to ‘hate speech’, the BJP leader has also sought a stay on the order of Additional Judicial Magistrate, Karimganj in Assam, summoning him as an accused for his speech on March 15 at Kaziranga University. Seeking a stay of proceedings before the trial court, he had said, Karimganj has a majority Bengali speaking population, with close ties to Sylhet in Bangladesh.
It is isolated from the rest of Assam and is dominated by illegal Bangladeshi migrants who are hostile to Assamese speaking majority of the rest of Assam; and the Petitioner has apprehensions for his safety when he appears in Court there. The instant Writ Petition…comprehends a challenge to the vires of Sections 153, 153A, 153B (deals with offence of rioting), 295A (outraging relegious feeling), 298 and 505 of the IPC, all of which deal with the offences popularly labelled as ‘hate speech’.
Under the law, hate speech is a speech, gesture or conduct, writing or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group. Swamy alleged that in past few years, these sections have been invoked against him, sometimes malafide and maliciously, by various authorities to penalise him for his clearheaded extensive research and his ideological beliefs and thereby make him conform to the norms of certain special ideological and religious groups.
At least five recent FIRs or summons have been issued against him from Delhi, Mumbai, Karimganj, Mohali in Punjab and Thrissur in Kerala, for presumed hate speech, he claimed.
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