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Union to SC: ‘28 States/UTs Appoint Nodal Officers to Tackle Hate Speech Under 2018 Guidelines’

The status report was filed by the Union in response to a batch of petitions seeking directions to curb hate speech.
The Central Wing of the Supreme Court of India, where the Chief Justice's courtroom is situated. Photo: Subhashish Panigrahi/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

New Delhi: The Union government has informed the Supreme Court that 28 states have appointed nodal officers in accordance with the guidelines issued by the court during the ‘Tehseen Poonawalla‘ case to prevent mob violence and lynching in 2018.

The status report was filed by the Union in response to a batch of petitions seeking directions to curb hate speech, LiveLaw reported.

On August 25, while hearing these petitions, the apex court had asked the home ministry to collate information from states regarding the appointment of nodal officers and file a status report within three weeks. It had also said that if any state government does not furnish said details, then the top court should be apprised of that.

In 2018, the Supreme Court had recommended the Parliament create a special law against lynching, emphasising that “fear of law and veneration for the command of law constitute the foundation of a civilised society”. The court had also issued a series of directions to prevent mob lynching, including the mandate for appointing nodal officers in every district across the country.

Watch: Why Doesn’t the Government Have Separate Mob Lynching Data?

However, the apex court had pulled up the Union and 10 state governments in 2019 for not implementing the directions issued by it to curb mob lynching and violence, The Wire had reported.

In August, 2023, after emphasising on the importance of stakeholder collaboration to address the issue of hate speech, the court proposed its own plan. It suggested the formation of a committee led by the district police chief. This committee would evaluate both the content and accuracy of hate speech complaints and provide specific directions to the investigating officer or the chief of the jurisdictional police station.

The committee would be required to meet within a specified time period after being apprised of a case as well as periodically review the progress in all ongoing cases according to the suggestions floated by the bench, the LiveLaw report said.

Meanwhile, the court allowed the petitioners facing grievances to simultaneously seek assistance from the nodal police officers appointed as per the 2018 judgement.

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