Home Ministry panel to propose section on offences relating to speech, expression
A committee constituted for suggesting amendments to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860 will now attempt to define ‘hate speech’ and also propose a separate section on ‘offences relating to speech and expression’
The committee is expected to submit its report soon.
Need for a standard definition:
- As there is no clear definitionof what constitutes a “hate speech” in the Indian Penal Code (IPC)
- Legally speaking, for criminal Sections to be invoked, any hate speech has to lead to violence or disturbance of law and order. However, even merely criticising someone is being termed hate speech. This is happening as there is no proper definition for this.
- Several “hate speech” cases are pending in the courts across the country.
Has it been defined anywhere else?
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.).”
Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws:
In 2019, the Home Ministry decided to overhaul the IPC, framed in 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)
- The committee thus formed is examining a gamut of subjects pertaining to reforms in the IPC.
- The committee has decided that instead of ad hoc changes, all the pending issues such as those on hate speech as recommended by the Viswanathan committee can be examined and comprehensive changes are brought in.
Need for tackling hate speech.
Hate speech threatens two key doctrines of democracy:
- The guarantee of equal dignity to all.
- The public good of inclusiveness.
Criteria to identify hate speech(by the Viswanathan committee)
- The extremity of the speech.
- Status of the author of the speech.
- Status of victims of the speech.
- Potentiality of the speech.
- Context of the Speech.
Hate speech is a violation of human rights, an attempt against people’s dignity. Democratic societies need to take actions to sanction and prevent all types of language that disseminate, promote or justify hate or intolerance