Hate Speech

Why in news?
  • The Indian Penal Code (IPC) contains no clear definition of what constitutes Hate Speech. Therefore, a committee constituted by the Union Home Ministry to suggest reforms to the British-era IPC is seeking to define such speech for the first time.
What is Hate Speech?
  • Hate speech has no legal definition internationally, and defining what is 'hateful' is controversial.
  • Broad Understanding: Any communication that attacks or uses derogatory or discriminatory language with respect to an individual or group based on their character.
  • Law Commission of India (267th Report): Hate speech is defined as inciting hatred primarily against a group of people defined by race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief and the like.
  • Bureau of Police Research and Development: a “language that denigrates, insults, threatens or targets an individual based on their identity and other traits (such as sexual orientation or disability or religion etc.).”
  • It can be demeaning and divisive. It is often based on intolerance and hatred.
  • It is aimed directly or indirectly at causing discrimination, hostility, and violence, which may also lead to terrorism or atrocity
  • It affects basic doctrines of democracy: the guarantee of equal dignity to all and the public good of inclusiveness.
Position in India on hate speech:
  • Under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution, freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed as a fundamental right, but this right isn't absolute, and as a result, restrictions are imposed under Article 19(2).
  • Thus free speech ends at the point where hate speech starts.
  • Liberty is for all, but when a 'hate speech' marginalizes certain people in the name of free speech, that liberty is taken away.
  • It was stated in the 267th law commission report of India that "liberty and equality are related and not exclusive"
Hate Speech in the Indian Penal Code and RPA:
  • Section 153A and Section 153B of the IPC: Penalize acts that lead to enmity and hatred between two groups.
  • In section 295A of the IPC, acts which intentionally or maliciously offend religious sentiments are punished.
  • Under sections 505(1) and 505(2), it is an offense to publish or circulate content that could incite hatred between different groups.
  • A person convicted of illegally exercising their freedom of speech is prohibited from contesting an election by Section 8 of the Representation of the People's Act, 1951 (RPA).
  • Sections 123(3A) and 125 of RPA prohibit the promotion of animosity against races, religions, communities, castes, or languages in economic or political matters, as well as corrupt electoral.
Some committees:
  • Viswanathan Committee 2017: This includes insertions of Section 505A and 153C (b) of the IPC for inciting violence on the basis of religion, race, caste or community, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, place of birth, residence, language, disability or tribe.
  • Bezbaruah Committee 2014: It proposed amending Section 153 C IPC to punish it with five years and a fine, or both, as well as Section 509 A IPC to punish it with three years and a fine, or both.

Causes of hate speech

  • Historical and social:
  • Any historical enmity between various religious or societal groups can motivate them to do hate crimes.
  • Sometimes society accepts hatred against a particular group or nation based on past experience of atrocities, prejudice and bias.
  • Political and legal:
  • Vote bank politics use various communal or emotional methods by inciting hatred in them.
  • Lack of strong and clear laws, poor implementation results in low conviction rate.
  • Insufficient or clear definition of hate speech creates loopholes for conviction.
  • Economic:
  • Increasing unemployment leads to the development of feeling of hatred against a particular group, especially refugees and migrated ones.
  • Lack of education prevents the overall development, the development of tolerance and understanding of individuality.
  • Technological:
  • Fake news, propaganda is created on social media against a particular group to destabilise a society. For example, Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013
  • Social media spreads messages way faster than other forms of mass media.
  • Role of Social Media:
  • Unregulated Information sharing on platform.
  • Preference to narrow minded interests than common good
  • Delaying the removal of malicious content even after reporting it
Impact of hate speech:
  • Violation of Human Rights.
  • Atrocities and crime, particularly Gender-based violence.
  • Terrorism & spread of violentextremism.
  • Communal Violence.
  • Decline of democratic values.
  • Mobocracy and Mob lynching.
  • Hampers peace, growth and development.
  • Damage of Public and Private Property.

Way Forward

  • Social:
  • Educationis the most efficient way to dilute hatred.
  • It also promotes the understanding and compassion for others.
  • Awareness:
  • Private companies should be encouraged to take awareness programs.
  • Government and administration should make intensive awareness about fallacy of any hate speech.
  • Political:
  • Government should come up with strict law for penalizing.
  • Administration should be sensitized for protection of vulnerable sections.
  • We should implement Viswanathan Committee Recommendations immediately.
  • Technological:
  • Government should enforce separate & efficient cybercrime system to counter propaganda by anti-social elements.
  • We should initiate healthy cooperation between authorities and social media platforms to restrict spread of hate messages.
  • As a result of hate speech, class and group groups of persons who are already in minorities due to race, language, and religion are further marginalized.
  • The first step towards resolving this issue would be to define hate speech correctly. Appropriate changes to the legal architecture must be made to criminalize hate speech. Police and judiciary must be sensitized to ensure hate speech cases are taken up due seriousness. Also public awareness about this issue must be enhanced.

Source: The Hindu


Posted by Jawwad Kazi on 31st Aug 2021