Edukemy Gazette

Hate Speech

Hate Speech

In News

A recently held religious conclave held in Haridwar had witnessed inflammatory and provocative speeches.

What is ‘hate speech’?

  • There is no particular legal definition of ‘hate speech’.
  • Any speech, writing, action, sign and representation that foment violence and spread disharmony between communities and groups are criminalised by law and these are referred to as ‘hate speech’.
  • The Law Commission of India defines “Hate speech as an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief
  • In general, hate speech is considered a limitation 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.

Laws in India w.r.t. Hate Speech

  • Sections 153A and 505 of the Indian Penal Code are generally taken to be the main penal provisions that deal with inflammatory speeches and expressions that seek to punish ‘hate speech’.
  • Under Section 153A, ‘promotion of enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony’, is an offence punishable with three years’ imprisonment and attracts a five-year term if committed in a place of worship, or an assembly engaged in religious worship or religious ceremonies.
  • Section 505 of IPC makes it an offence to making “statements conducing to public mischief”. This attracts a jail term of up to three years and a five-year jail term if it takes place in a place of worship, or in any assembly engaged in religious worship or religious ceremonies.

Proposal of the Law Commission w.r.t. The Law Commission has proposed that:

  • IPC Sections: Separate offences be added to the IPC to criminalise hate speech specifically instead of being subsumed in the existing sections concerning inflammatory acts and speeches.
  • It should punish acts and statements that promote racial discrimination.
  • It has proposed the addition of two new sections, Section 153C and Section 505A.
  • Section 153C: Should make it an offence if anyone
  • uses gravely threatening words, spoken or written or signs or visible representations, with the intention to cause fear or alarm; or
  • advocates hatred that causes incitement to violence, on grounds of religion, race, caste or community, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, place of birth, residence, language, disability or tribe.
  • It proposes a two-year jail term for this and/or a fine of ₹5,000 or both.

  • Section 505A: Should criminalise
  • Words, or display of writing or signs that are gravely threatening or derogatory, causing fear or alarm or, with intent to provoke the use of unlawful violence against that person or another”.
  • It proposes a prison term of up to one year and/or a fine up to ₹5,000 or both.



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