The Supreme Court has opened up the issue, but it’s hard to predict when the law will catch up with hate speeches and hate crimes by politicians.
The wheels of justice are known to grind exceedingly slowly in India, where a 2007 hate speech by current UP CM Yogi Adityanath finds mention in the Supreme Court in 2018. A decade has rolled by before judicial intervention was even thought of. A riot in which 10 lives were lost makes the issue serious, indicating this may be a clear case of justice delayed being justice denied. Politicians often bank on systemic delays in law enforcement and the justice system to get away with words and deeds that should invite action. Curiously, those in power are reluctant to act swiftly against their ilk, regardless of political hue, and even if they are polar opposites in ideology.
One of Yogi’s first acts on coming to power last year was to withdraw all cases registered against himself on the ground that they were politically motivated and unworthy of judicial scrutiny. But it should not be up to an individual to determine what cases should be pursued by the justice system. Such orders are a clear transgression of the balance of powers, but without searching judicial scrutiny, those in power like Yogi can probably get away with it. The Allahabad high court was told the voice in the audio recording was indeed that of Yogi Adityanath; he was the Gorakhpur MP then. Despite that, the court has refused to grant sanction to prosecute the accused. The Supreme Court has opened up the issue, but it’s hard to predict when the law will catch up with hate speeches and hate crimes by politicians.