No specific law against hate speech: EC

Source: The post is based on the article “No specific law against hate speech: EC published in The Hindu on 15th September 2022.

What is the News?

The Election Commission of India (ECI) in the Supreme Court has said that due to the lack of a specific law against hate speech and rumour during polls.

About the case on hate speech and rumour during polls

The Supreme Court asked a specific query to the Law Commission whether the ECI ought to be conferred with the power to derecognise a political party for committing the “offence of hate speech”. But the Law Commission of India, in its 267th Report on hate speech, had not made any recommendations with regard to the query.

A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the Centre to take appropriate steps to implement recommendations of the Law Commission Report 267 on hate speech.

Must read: Issue of hate speech in India | Timeline
How does the ECI regulate hate speech and rumour during polls?

Firstly, the ECI has resorted to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Representation of the People (RP) Act to ensure that members of political parties do not make statements which can create disharmony in society.

Secondly, in the Abhiram Singh case, the court held that “any appeal to vote or refrain from voting for a candidate on the grounds of religion, caste, race, community or language by a candidate or his agent to the electors would amount to corrupt practice under the 1951 Act”.

Based on the judgement, the ECI asked the political parties to desist from making hate statements. Hate speech and communal statements by candidates or their agents could be raised in election petitions.

Note: According to the ECI, hate speeches were “often interconnected with appeals to religion, caste, community, etc, during election campaigning.

Thirdly, the Model Code of Conduct had no “legal sanctity.” But the ECI had introduced guidelines in the Code asking political parties to desist from making communal statements. In case any complaints were made, the ECI said it took “strict note” of it.

Read more: Hate speech, IPC Sec 295A, and how courts have read the law
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