There is no crime if anything is uttered with a smile, but there may be criminality if something is spoken offensively, according to Justice Chandra Dhari Singh.
People on social media are criticizing a Delhi High Court statement in which it said that something, even a hate speech said with a smile on face can not be termed as case of hate speech.
The Delhi High Court on Friday in a case involving alleged hate speeches linked to the Northeast Delhi riots said that a speech given during election time is different from one given all through ordinary times, and that sometimes things are said just to create a ‘mahaul’ (atmosphere) without the intention of doing so.
So, here the court was justifying the idea of creating a violent mahaul before elections? And not just that, it will also give a massive impetus to use hate speech just before elections to commualise the mahaul for their good at the cost of peoples (read Muslims) life.
According to Justice Chandra Dhari Singh, there is no crime if anything is spoken with a smile, but there may be criminality if something is said offensively.
The court was hearing CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat’s appeal against a lower court decision that denied her request to register a FIR against Union Minister Anurag Thakur and MP Parvesh Verma for alleged hate speech.
The Indian Express quoted the court as saying, “Were they election speeches? Was that an election speech or speech in ordinary time? If any speech is given during election time, then it’s a different thing.”
It further added, “If you’re giving a speech in the ordinary course, then it is instigating something. In the election speech, so many things are said by politicians to politicians… that is also a wrong but I have to see the criminality of the act.”
“If you’re saying something with a smile then there is no criminality, if you’re saying something offensively then criminality. You have to check and balance. Otherwise, I think 1,000 FIRs may be lodged against all politicians during elections”, the court underlined adding that if the checks are not maintained, thousands of FIRs would have been lodged against politicians during elections.
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Netizen Reacts on Delhi High Court Observation
The statement caused anger among the social media user prompting aghast reactions from lawyers, journalists, etc.
Senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai called the statement ‘bizarre’ and said on his twitter profile., “If you say something with a smile, it’s not a crime says Delhi high Court in hate speech case. Nafrat ki goli magar muskura ke! more than a bit bizarre if you ask me!”
Founder of Janta Ka Reporter said reacting to court’s observation, ““No criminality if said with a smile”: Delhi High Court in Brinda Karat’s appeal seeking FIR against BJP leaders hate speech case. Would there be contempt case against me if I say something objectionable to this judge about this observation with a smile?”
Cartoon artist Satish Acharya condemned the court’s observation through his cartoon depicting a killer with a blood coated knife in his hand pleading before judge, “Mazak mein maara saab, I killed with smile.”
Journalist Rana Ayub also criticized court’s observation and said, “the Indian court says, hate speech not a crime if said with a smile. Hello world, you are complicit if you are watching the horrors unleashed against us in silence.”
Nidhi Razadan: Everyday, the judiciary covers itself with glory. Latest- it’s not hate speech if you say it with a smile.
The Wire journalist Kaushik Raj said, “A Union Minister saying “Desh Ke Gaddaron Ko Goli Maaro Salon Ko” and an MP saying “Shaheen Bagh people will enter your house & rape your women” and that when voted to power he will raze mosques on govt land is NOT hate speech because they said these with a smile. Thanks Milord.”