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22nd October 2022 (6 Topics)

Take immediate action against hate speech: SC


The Supreme Court has said that it would attract proceedings for contempt of court against the officers, found hesitant in taking immediate and sou moto action in cases of hate speech.


  • The directions were primarily for the police of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
  • The court has issued notices to the three States and asked them to submit reports on actions taken on hate speech cases.
  • SC has also said, that Police should take legal actions against hate-speech makers, "irrespective of their religion so that the secular character of the country is preserved".

What is hate speech?

  • In common language, “hate speech” loosely refers to offensive discourse targeting a group or an individual based on inherent characteristics - such as race, religion, or gender - and that may threaten social peace.
  • According to the 267th Report of the Law Commission of India, Hate Speech is stated as an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, and the like.

Reasons for Hate Speech:

  • Individuals believe in stereotypes that are ingrained in their minds and these stereotypes lead them to believe that a class or group of persons is inferior to them and as such cannot have the same rights as them.
  • The stubbornness to stick to a particular ideology without caring for the right to co-exist peacefully adds further fuel to the fire of hate speech.

Legal Provisions of Hate Speech in India

  • Responsible speech is the essence of the liberty granted under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Article 19(2) of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression to all citizens of India.
  • Hate speech has not been defined in any law in India. However, legal provisions in certain legislations prohibit select forms of speech as an exception to freedom of speech.

Legislations around Hate speech

The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter IPC):

  • Section 124A IPC penalizes sedition
  • Section 153A IPC penalizes ‘the 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.
  • Section 153B IPC penalizes ‘imputations, and assertions prejudicial to national integration.
  • Section 295A IPC penalizes ‘deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
  • Section 298 IPC penalizes ‘uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person.
  • Section 505(1) and (2) IPC penalizes the publication or circulation of any statement, rumor, or report causing public mischief and enmity, hatred, or ill-will between classes.

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