A Delhi High Court has sent a takedown notice against videos of certain speeches by Andhra Pradesh MLA and All India Majlis-e Ittihad al-Muslimin (MIM) member Akbaruddin Owaisi, reports The Hindu.
Owaisi has made several speeches, but the current controversy revolves around a speech he made at Adilabad in 2012. He had said that 250 million Indian Muslims needed only 15 minutes without the police to show one billion Hindus who is more powerful. Several courts had filed charges against him for the speech that led to his arrest.
The lawyer approached a court in Delhi stating that some of these videos were still viewable on Facebook, YouTube on the website of 4tv. The lawyer argued that the websites should remove the video and also any other content likely to hurt religious sentiments of any community. “Everyone can visit the website of the defendants and open the link to the video and make his/her comments after viewing the same,” the petition said.
“The comments made by the viewers are also highly objectionable,” he said. “The acts and omissions of the defendants (websites) are promoting communalism in secular India. Not only the plaintiffs but all citizens who believe in a secular, socialist and democratic India are aggrieved by the video in question,” the court was told. Based on this petition the court ordered these sites to take down the controversial videos.
This was not the first time Owaisi has made a controversial speech. A few years back he had made death threats against Tasleema Nasreen and Salman Rushdie. He had also said that he would have killed former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao with his own hands if Rao had not died.
There have been several instances of hate speech in the run up to the election and there has not been any take down notices against them yet, but it won’t be surprising if courts ask these sites to take them down later on. Some of these videos were shown by news channels too and it is not clear if any court here will ask them also to take down the video.
While India does have an Article 19 which grants freedom of speech and expression, it comes with a few restrictions. If a speech includes statements that affect security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency and morality, contempt of court, defamation, incitement to an offence or sovereignty and integrity of India, it will not be protected under Article 19 of the Indian constitution.