NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the Maharashtra government to conduct videography of a programme proposed to be held by 'Sakal Hindu Samaj' in Mumbai on February 5.
The top court also recorded a submission by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on behalf of the state that if permission is granted for the event, it will be subject to the condition that "nobody will make any hate speech and in defiance of law or disturbing the public order".
A bench of Justices K M Joseph and J B Pardiwala passed its order "in the interest of justice" on a plea by Shaheen Abdullah even as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Maharashtra government, contended that if someone is prevented from voicing their view then there will be violation of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and it would amount to pre-censorship.
Abdullah, led by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, submitted that the police should invoke Section 151 of Code of Criminal Procedure which gives power to the police to arrest persons to prevent cognisable offences.
The counsel also said having regard to what has happened on earlier occasion January 29, 2023), the meeting may be videographed, which would be presented before this court.
In his submission, Mehta contended how a petitioner based in Kerala would know of speeches being made in Maharashtra and the court could say what has to be spoken would be vetted first.
Opposing the demand, Mehta said they not only want pre-censorship but also pre-arrest. Mehta contended that this forum is being misused.
He also submitted that the State is not concerned with Section 151 of the CrPC alone but it is concerned with the entire gamut of law.
Referring to the Dharam Sansad event in Uttarakhand , the bench, however, said the event happened there and then the state government took action. "If there is a replica of what happened then we cannot allow this," the bench said.
The plea contended rallies have been organised by a body known as the Sakal Hindu Samaj, an umbrella body of Hindu right-wing organisations under the banner of “Hindu Jan Aakrosh Sabha”, seeking boycott of goods from shops owned by Muslims and a law against “love jihad” and “religious conversions.”
The court also the Maharashtra government to get instructions in regard to the allegation made about what has happened in the conduct of previous meeting which took place at the instance of very same organisation. It directed the videography of the event should be presented before it and fixed the matter for hearing after two weeks.