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Current Affairs

Hate speech in India

Date: 13 January 2022 Tags: Bills & Laws

Issue

The Supreme Court has accepted petitions by various sections of society to hear case related to hate speech made at a religious conclave.

 

Background

The religious conclave was involved in making provocative and hates filled remarks about the minority community.

 

Details

  • 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.

 

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.