The Supreme Court has accepted petitions by various sections of society to hear case related to hate speech made at a religious conclave.
The religious conclave was involved in making provocative and hates filled remarks about the minority community.
Statements made during the conclave included threats of ethnic cleansing, similar to the one that happened in Myanmar.
The government was threatened of ‘1857-like’ revolt’ if it resisted the formation of Hindu Rashtra. Many have termed this as hate speech.
There are no specific words to define what constitutes a hate speech. Speeches, writings, actions, signs that incite violence and spread disharmony between communities and groups are criminalised as ‘hate speech’.
The Law commission of India in its report says that incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief and the like can be termed hate speech.
It is a restriction on free speech that seeks to prevent or bar speech that exposes a person or a group or section of society to hate, violence, ridicule or indignity.
Provisions under the law
Inflammatory speeches are punished under the provisions of Sections 153A and 505 of the Indian Penal Code.
Section 153A will cover promotion of enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., that violate harmony.
If committed in a place of worship, or an assembly engaged in religious worship or religious ceremonies, it will attract a five-year term.
Section 505 will punish actions that include making statements conducing to public mischief. It also covers publication, report or rumour.
Recommendations of Law commission
Law commission says that separate offences be added to the IPC to criminalise hate speech quite specifically instead of other sections.
A committee is currently working on comprehensive changes to criminal law to examine if there needs to be specific provisions to tackle hate speech.