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Incidents of Hate Speeches Against Minority Communities


The Supreme Court recently slammed the “silence of the state” to spiralling incidents of hate speeches made against minority communities.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Hate speeches made against minority communities
  2. Recent incidents of Hate Speech
  3. What is “Hate Speech”?
  4. Laws related to hate speech in India

Hate speeches made against minority communities:

  • The Supreme Court asked the Maharashtra government for an explanation about hate speech incidents in the State.
  • It raised concerns on the silence of the State  to spiralling incidents of hate speeches made against minority communities, including Muslims.
  • The court stressed the need to separate religion from politics to get out of the vicious circle of hate.
  • The court also said hate speech strikes a mortal blow to dignity.

Recent incidents of Hate Speech:

  • A spokesperson of a political party in Tamil Nadu said that-‘if you want equality you should butcher all the Brahmins….‘. No FIR has been registered against the person and he continues to be a spokesperson of the party.
  • A video clip circulated from Kerala showing a child being made to threaten Hindus and even Christians.

What is “Hate Speech”?

  • In general, “Hate Speech” refers to words whose intent is to create hatred towards a particular group, that group may be a community, religion or race. This speech may or may not have meaning, but is likely to result in violence.
  • BPRD Definition: The Bureau of Police Research and Development recently published a manual for investigating agencies on cyber harassment cases that defined hate speech as 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.).”
  • According to the Law Commission of India, “Hate speech generally is an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief and the like. This, hate speech is any word written or spoken, signs, visible representations within the hearing or sight of a person with the intention to cause fear or alarm, or incitement to violence.”

Laws related to hate speech in India

Article 19 of the Constitution– Freedom of Speech and Expression is guaranteed to all the citizens of India. However, the right is subjected to reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

Indian Penal Code on Hate Speech

  • Section 295A defines and prescribes a punishment for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
    • “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 or by visible representations or otherwise, insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to [three years], or with fine, or with both,” the IPC section reads.
  • According to Section 153A of IPC, “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 a punishable offence and attracts three years of imprisonment.
  • According to Section 505 of IPC, “Statements that promote mutiny by the armed forces, or causes such fear or alarm that people are induced to commit an offence against the state or public tranquillity; or is intended to incite or incites any class or community to commit an offence against another class or community”, will attract a jail term of up to three years under Section 505(1).
  • Under Section 505(2), “it is an offence to make statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes.
  • Under Section 505(3), the offence will attract up to 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.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024