Hate Speech - SC notices to center, Uttarakhand Govt and Delhi police

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Hate Speech - SC notices to center, Uttarakhand Govt and Delhi police

  • The Supreme Court issued notices regarding a PIL seeking action against those who delivered hate speeches during the ‘Dharam Sansad’ held at Haridwar.
  • An event that was organised by ‘Hindu Yuva Vahini’ in Delhi last month.
  • SC is asking the Center and respective State to respond to the PIL filed by journalist Qurban Ali and senior advocate Anjana Prakash, a Bench led by CJI NV Ramana posted the matter for further hearing after 10 days.

About the Context

  • The petitioners have sought an “independent, credible and impartial investigation” by an SIT into the incidents of alleged hate speeches at the Dharam Sansad.
  • On behalf of the petitioners, senior advocate Kapil Sibal urged the top court to stay the next Dharam Sansad scheduled to be held at Aligarh later this month.
  • Also asked to take up the matter on Monday for this purpose but the Bench didn’t pass any such orders.


  • The event was organised by Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, head priest of a temple in Ghaziabad who has several cases registered against him.
  • At the religious event, he called for war against Muslims and urged Hindus to take up weapons to prevent a Muslim becoming prime minister in 2029.
  • Dharamdas Maharaj(from Patna) targeted former PM Manmohan Singh, saying “I wish I was an MP there holding a revolver; I would have become Nathuram Godse and pumped all the six bullets into him inside Parliament.""
  • Narsinghanand is seen to be offering Rs 1 crore to Hindu youth for becoming like LTTE leader Prabhakaran as he called upon Hindu youth to become “Prabhakaran” and “Bhindranwale”.

About Hate Speech

  • It 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.
  • Hate Speech as defined by the 267th report of the Law Commission of India 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”.

Major Reasons of 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 are 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.

Indian Penal Provisions Related to Hate Speech

  • Sections 153A and 153B of the IPC: Punishes acts that cause enmity and hatred between two groups.
  • Section 295A of the IPC: Deals with punishing acts which deliberately or with malicious intention outrage the religious feelings of a class of persons.
  • Sections 505(1) and 505(2): Make the publication and circulation of content which may cause ill-will or hatred between different groups an offence.

Under Representation of People’s Act

  • Section 8 of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 (RPA): Prevents a person convicted of the illegal use of the freedom of speech from contesting an election.
  • Sections 123(3A) and 125 of the RPA: Bars the promotion of animosity on the grounds of race, religion, community, caste, or language in reference to elections and includes it under corrupt electoral practices.

SC’s stand

  • SC states - We allow the petitioners to bring the case before the notice of the authorities and how it is against certain penal provisions.
  • During the hearing, the Bench said similar issues were pending before another Bench led by Justice AM Khanwilkar and this petition should be sent to that Bench.
  • SC agreed to issue a notice to the Uttarakhand Government after Sibal insisted that his petition was specifically on the issue of hate speech at Haridwar Dharam Sansad.

Way Forward

  • For a country like India with a massive population of diverse backgrounds and culture, subjects like hate speech become a complex issue to deal with as it is difficult to differentiate between free and hate speech.
  • Several factors are to be considered while restraining speeches like the number of strong opinions, offensive to certain communities, the effect on the values of dignity, liberty, and equality. Certainly, there are laws for such atrocities but a major part of work is still left.
  • Therefore giving a proper definition to hate speech would be the first step to deal with the menace and other initiatives such as spreading awareness amongst the public is the need of the hour.