New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday slammed the Uttar Pradesh Police over the delay in lodging FIR in a hate crime, saying in a secular country, there is no space for such offences on the basis of religion.
A bench of Justices K.M. Joseph and B.V. Nagarathna said that there is no space for hate crime on the basis of religion in a secular country and it is the primary duty of the state to protect the citizens.
“It is said he was wearing the cap…. when such crimes are not acted against then an atmosphere is fostered which is a dangerous issue and it has to be rooted out from our lives,” it said, warning the authorities if they ignored it, one day, it would come for you.
The top court made these observations while hearing a plea by 62-year-old, Kazeem Ahmad Sherwani, who claimed to be a victim of an alleged hate crime at Noida in July 2021.
The bench told Additional Advocate General Garima Prasad, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, that the incident cannot be swept under the carpet and expressed concern that the FIR in the incident was registered in January 2023, almost one and half year after the date of the incident in July 2021.
The bench observed that the FIR was registered only after the last date of hearing in January, when it directed the UP Policce — which denied the case being a hate crime — to produce the case diary. In the previous hearing, the bench had expressed its discontent over the state’s failure to lodge cases against those accused of hate crimes.
The bench told the UP government counsel: “Will you not acknowledge that there is a hate crime and you will sweep it under the carpet? We are only expressing our anguish.”
It stressed that be it in minority or majority, certain rights are there which are inherent in human beings. “You are born into a family and raised in one; but we stand out as a nation. You have to take this seriously,” said the top court.
Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, representing the petitioner, submitted that the state government had refused to acknowledge the matter as a hate crime and act promptly.
Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj, representing the Delhi Police, contended that there were injuries to the petitioner due to resistance. The bench replied that it should not be denied that there exists some in the country, who have communal attitude and they usually do it. Nataraj submitted that since the petitioner is from the minority community, the incident does not become a hate crime.
The bench then said: “If you ignore this, then one day it will come for you…”, and added that solutions can be found only when one recognises the problem.
The apex court asked the Uttar Pradesh Police to bring on record within two weeks when the accused in the incident were arrested and when they got out on bail.
The petitioner moved the apex court seeking action against the accused who tortured him and also police officers who declined to take action on his complaint.