Issue of Hate speech in India

In News- Sudarshan TV case will have several implications for the regulation of free speech.

What is hate speech? 

The term hate speech is understood as any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis their collective identity, be it race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexuality.

Hate speech threatens two key doctrines of democracy-

  • The guarantee of equal dignity to all
  • The public good of inclusiveness.

Criteria to identify hate speech:

  1. The extremity of the speech.
  2. Incitement
  3. Status of the author of the speech.
  4. Status of victims of the speech.
  5. Potentiality of the speech.
  6. Context of the Speech.

Regulation of Hate speech in India

  • Constitutional provisions: Article 19(2) of the Constitution gives all citizens the right to freedom of speech and expression but subject to “reasonable restrictions” for preserving inter alia “public order, decency or morality”.
  • Statutory provisions:   India prohibits hate speech by several sections such as Section 95 of CRPC Section 124A or Section 153A or Section 153B or Section 292 or Section 293 or Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code.

Committees on Hate Speech

  1. K Viswanathan Committee recommendations.
  • A committee headed by former Lok Sabha Secretary General T.K. Viswanathan submitted a report recommending stricter laws to curb online hate speech
  • The panel was formed after Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, was scrapped by the Supreme Court in 2015.

Bezbaruah Committee

  • The Bezbaruah Committee was constituted by the Centre in February 2014 in the wake of a series of racial attacks on persons belonging to the northeast
  • Though the committee submitted its report in July 2014, the Home Ministry sent out letters to States for their opinion almost four years later, in February this year.

Laws against hate speech:

  • Section 295A was also introduced to control series of communal violence.Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished.
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