The decision of the Supreme Court to extend its October 2022 directive to police chiefs in states and Union territories to book suo motu cases against hate speeches without waiting for a complaint will go a long way in stopping the attempts of a section of people to damage the social fabric of our country. It will, however, be fruitful only when, as the court itself pointed out, politicians “stopped mixing politics with religion”.
By warning police chiefs to face proceedings under contempt of court for their failure to act, the apex court has both empowered the executive and made it responsible to the law and unto itself. The court has given it no space to invent excuses.
Human expressions, whether hate or love, should in normal cases be left to be free in a democracy so that society can judge them on its own parameters. But a society like ours with several faultlines is prone to deep divisions unless the preachers of hate are stopped in their tracks. Politicians who cannot win the hearts of the people with their work can take the easy route of creating an ‘other’ and blaming it for their miseries, scare people out of their wits and reap a rich harvest of power. A fully evolved democracy would have developed tools to ensure that they would be left with no gains but we are yet to reach there. “Your religion is in peril because of the other” can still be a poll plank in our country.
But there is only so much that judiciary can do unless society realises that haters do it no good. No country or society is without grievances, but finding solutions to them should be a joint endeavour. Haters are not part of the solution; they are out there only to aggravate problems and must be resisted by society with all available tools.