‘Organiser cannot be held accountable for hate speech by speaker’: Delhi HC | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times

‘Organiser cannot be held accountable for hate speech by speaker’: Delhi High Court

Jul 22, 2023 04:47 AM IST

The court’s observation came as it set aside a 2020 trial court order to register an FIR against VHP leader Alok Kumar.

An individual organising a public meeting cannot be held accountable for a hate speech delivered by one of the participants over which such the organiser had no control or responsibility, the Delhi high court observed on Friday.

Delhi high court (FILE)
Delhi high court (FILE)

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The court’s observation came as it set aside a February 2020 trial court order directing the city police to register an FIR against Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Alok Kumar on a complaint filed by activist Harsh Mander, for allegedly giving a hate speech during a VHP rally in 2019.

While granting Kumar relief, justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said that in case FIRs are registered against a person organising a meeting, for the misconduct of any participant of the meeting, it will severely impact the basic principle of criminal law that a person is accountable for his own criminal actions and others are not vicariously liable for the same unless specifically provided for under law.

Also Read | SP leader Azam Khan convicted for 2019 hate speech, gets 2 years in jail

“It also had to be considered that there was no implied command of the petitioner (Alok Kumar) over action of any other person’s speech in a public function. The impugned conduct of one person in a public meeting cannot be tied to another person present therein holding him vicariously liable. It will be on the same corollary as if in a television or a public debate, the anchor is held liable for the comments or views expressed by another,” the court said.

It also said that there is no place for hatred or communal disharmony in a civilised society, adding that in a country like India, not one or two, rather all the communities have always respected each other and have lived a harmonious life.

“There is neither any place for hate speeches by any community against any person or place, nor there is any place for vandalism of idols or religious places of any community. At the same time, the right of every person to be protected from malicious prosecution also has to be guarded and it is to be ensured that FIRs be not directed to be registered in absence of any material on record, in casual and trivial manner without recording satisfaction about commission of cognizable offence and without passing a reasoned order…,” the court said in a 73-page judgment.

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