NEW DELHI: In a relief to BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, Supreme Court today stayed the execution of a non-bailable warrant issued against him by an Assam court for allegedly delivering a hate speech at a university there.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and M Y Eqbal also issued notice to the Centre on the plea challenging constitutional validity of certain penal provisions pertaining to offences of rioting and hate speech.
At the outset, senior advocate T R Andhyarujina, appearing for Swamy, said, "this man has been subjected to incredible harassment for giving lecture in a University."
The bench, which decided to hear arguments on the constitutional validity of certain IPC provisions, asked Swamy to move to the high court or a competent court with his individual case of issuance of warrant for allegedly delivering hate speech.
"We are issuing notice confined to prayer one and two (issues related to constitutional validity of certain penal provisions)," the bench said.
Later, the ben ch stayed the execution of the non-bailable warrant (NBW) for six weeks and allowed Swamy to move a competent court within that period.
Swamy had approached the apex court against the order of a trial court in Karimganj in Assam, issuing a NBW against him for failing to appear before it in a case of alleged hate speech.
The local court had issued summons to Swamy on March 19 on a complaint accusing him of allegedly delivering an inflammatory speech on March 15 at Kaziranga University.
The Karimganj court had ordered that the arrest warrant be complied with on or before June 30.
On May 21, a judge of the apex court had recused from hearing his plea challenging the validity of some penal provisions relating to "hate speech".
The BJP leader had also sought a stay on the order of Additional Judicial Magistrate, Karimganj, summoning him as an accused for the speech.
In his petition, Swamy had said "Karimganj has a majority Bengali speaking population, with close ties to Sylhet in Bangladesh. It is isolated from the rest of Assam and is dominated by illegal Bangladeshi migrants who are hostile to Assamese speaking majority of the rest of Assam; and the Petitioner has apprehensions for his safety when he appears in Court there."
"The instant Writ Petition...comprehends a challenge to the vires of Sections 153, 153A, 153B (dealing with offence of rioting), 295A (outraging religious feelings), 298 (uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings) and 505 (making a statement to cause incitement) of the IPC,
all of which deal with the offences popularly labelled as 'hate speech'."
Under the law, hate speech is a speech, gesture or conduct, writing or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group.
Swamy had alleged that in the "past few years", these sections have been invoked against him, "sometimes malafide and maliciously, by various authorities to penalise him for his clearheaded extensive research and his ideological beliefs and thereby make him conform to the norms of certain special ideological and religious groups."
At least five recent FIRs or summons have been issued against him from Delhi, Mumbai, Karimganj, Mohali in Punjab and Thrissur in Kerala, for "presumed hate speech", he had claimed.