Tackling hate speech in India

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admin November 5, 2021
Updated 2021/11/05 at 7:58 AM

A speech given by a Bishop of the Syros Malabar Church in Kerala has gotten a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons. The phrase “narcotic jihad” was created by Bishop Joseph Kallasrangatt of Pala, a tiny town in Kerala. He accused a few Muslim organisations of providing Catholic girls drugs, courting them with the goal of converting them to Islam, or transporting them to terrorist camps overseas. The tone of the speech targeted at a certain faith is contentious.

Identifying and understanding hate speech This debate has raised some interesting issues regarding hate speech legislation. It’s important to examine what grounds the prohibition of hate speech from a philosophical and moral standpoint. The United States Supreme Court ruled in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942) that the Constitution does not protect “insulting or’fighting’ words — those that, by their mere utterance, inflict harm or seek to provoke an instant breach of the peace.” Hate speech is prohibited on the basis of this concept. It’s essential to consider why liberal societies ban some kinds of speech as ‘injurious.’ Individual dignity and equality are key considerations. Every human being has the right to fundamental human dignity and decent treatment. A British scholar, Lord Bhikhu Parekh, stated: “(Hate speech) regards members of the target group as internal enemies, refuses to recognise them as genuine and equal members of society, reduces their social status, and… undermines the fundamental foundations of a shared existence. It erects walls of distrust and animosity between people and organisations, sows anxieties, obstructs natural relationships…, and has a destructive effect on collective life.” The Supreme Court of India cited Saskatchewan v. Whatcott from the Canadian Supreme Court in Pravasi Bhalai Sangathan v. Union of India (2014). (2013). It was said that hate speech was prohibited “impacts a protected group’s capacity to react to the substantive ideas under discussion, posing a significant obstacle to their full participation in our democracy?’ This concept has a lot of resonance in India’s political landscape. Muslims are left helpless against anti-Muslim propaganda since they are a minority in an overtly Hindu majoritarian political environment. This discourse has not only created an environment of dread for women, but it has also created a climate of fear for men.

Muslims, but only in instances of violence committed purely because of their ethnicity. The community’s genuine problems, such as social and educational backwardness, have been effectively ignored by a barrage of unrelenting allegations.

India’s legal status

Section 153sA of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) forbids “promoting animosity between various groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, domicile, language, etc., and performing actions detrimental to the preservation of peace.” The provision’s basic origins suggest that social integrity was prioritised, which the law strives to protect. The clause was included into the Penal Code Amendment Act of 1898 in its previous form. The proposal to combine this provision with Section 124-A of the IPC (sedition) was rejected by the Select Committee, which said that the former is more concerned with “public tranquillity” than the state’s security. It stated: “The crime only has an indirect impact on the government or the state, and the core of the offence is that it predisposes groups of individuals to behave in ways that may disrupt public order?’ The legislation’s communitarian aspect keeps it current, while the sedition statute has grown harmful and outdated. In today’s politics, the law is often disregarded and misapplied. This is a problem at the operational level, i.e. how the legislation is put into effect and enforced. On the one hand, anti-Muslim comments are disregarded. Vague allusions to the majoritarian agenda, on the other hand, are often charged under this clause. Regrettably, the Kerala event is not unique. In a national context where hatred has become an ideology with deadly consequences, we must consider how to combat it via political and legal methods. Hate speech is not defined in the Indian Constitution or criminal laws. There isn’t any particular law on the subject. Due to the inherent potential for abuse, designing an accurate and hate speech legislation is difficult. This is why we need a political and educational response to the threat. The ideals of equality, liberty, and fraternity enshrined in the Constitution must be made a part of ongoing public education. When hate speech flourishes, the state should use the current legislation as a last resort in suitable circumstances. It must also adopt a secular stance based on the rule of law and educate the general public.

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