Hate Speech Cases In India: Hate speech, inflammatory speech or hate speech… you must have heard these words a lot in the last few years. Such statements of leaders against a particular community or caste have increased very rapidly. About which the Supreme Court has reprimanded and expressed concern many times. The matter of hate speech is now in discussion once again, because Samajwadi Party’s stalwart Azam Khan was convicted in the hate speech case and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.
Till now you must have heard a lot about the court’s reprimand or the police FIR in the cases of hate speech, but never the case of such a big punishment came in front of you. The clear reason for this is that the cases of hate speech are increasing like fire, but the conviction rate is very low. We are not saying this but statistics.
Shocking figures of NCRB
In the recent report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there was a shocking revelation about hate speech. It was told that in the last seven years, the highest number of cases of hate speech have been registered. There has been a record 500% increase in such cases. According to NCRB data, the lowest number of 323 cases of hate speech were registered in the year 2014, which increased to 1804 in the year 2020. These were the most cases of hate speech. It is worth noting that these are the cases which have been registered with the police, in many cases the complaint does not even reach the police.
Most cases against politicians
Hate speech and politicians have an old relationship, but in the last few years, politicians have used it fiercely for political gains. In a 2018 report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), it was told that 58 MLAs and MPs of the country have admitted that there are cases of hate speech against them. In which BJP leaders are in maximum number. In which 17 BJP MLAs and 10 MPs were involved.
What is the law on hate speech?
Hate speech is that in which any remarks related to violence, race, religion and gender are made against people of a particular religion or community or particular class. The special thing is that no special law has been made on hate speech. Cases are registered in hate speech cases under sections related to spreading hatred and violence. It is defined under sections 153 and 295A of the Indian Penal Code. In which all the cases of inciting violence and inciting riots and inciting religious sentiments are registered. If the hate speech has happened online, that is, a case of hate speech comes through social media, then it is registered under section 66A of the IT Act.
The most important thing is that in the total cases registered under this section, the conveyance rate is very low. That is, cases are registered, but the accused is not proved guilty. From 2016 to 2020, the conversion rate in hate speech cases has been only 20 percent.
Expert gave answer on Conviction
Regarding this whole matter of hate speech, we talked to former ASG of the country, constitutional expert and senior advocate of Supreme Court KC Kaushik. He told that if you do the work of spreading hatred against a particular community, then a case can be registered against someone in it and punishment can also be given. If I talk about the conveyance rate, then my 40 years of experience says that it is practically zero in this.
Former ASG Kaushik, while explaining the hate speech, further said that usually more cases of hate speech come to the fore during elections. These matters go to the Election Commission and they leave the leaders with a warning. Politicians are banned from attending public rallies for 4 or 10 days and nothing more. If these cases go to court, then they are settled in the lower court itself.
What is the impact of the Supreme Court’s rebuke?
It is generally seen that the police do not register the case directly for political reasons regarding the hate speech of all the big leaders, but the High Court and the Supreme Court reprimand them fiercely. Just a few days ago, while hearing a similar case, the Supreme Court gave a stern warning to the police of the states and said that strict action should be taken on hate speech, no matter what religion it is associated with. Where have we reached in the name of religion, the Supreme Court said. In this petition, BJP MP Parvesh Verma and the event of Hindu Sabha were mentioned. However, these harsh remarks of the Supreme Court do not seem to have any significant effect.
Despite these harsh remarks of the Supreme Court, when KC Kaushik was questioned on the increasing cases of hate speech and the low conversion rate, he said, I believe that the justices, whether they are from the High Court or the Supreme Court, have their pen. There is real power in this. Whatever they have to say, say it with your pen. That is, write it in your order as well. Mere verbal remarks will not cause anything but controversy. Commentary on hate speech is shown a lot in the media, but no one benefits from it.
Regarding the decision on Azam Khan, former ASG Kaushik said that, in my entire career of 40 years of the court, I have not seen a case of three years sentence in any case of hate speech.
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