Law enforcement authorities in Maharashtra have made at least five arrests in the past 12 weeks for allegedly posting glorifying content about Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
According to the First Information Reports (FIRs), the authorities have booked the men under Sections 298, 295A, 505 (2), and 153A of the Indian Penal Code.
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About This Topic
- Hate Speech
- Under what provisions were the arrests made?
- 267thReport of the Law Commission of India describes hate speech 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.
- Hate speech covers many forms of expressions which advocate, incite, promote or justify hatred, violence and discrimination against a person or group of persons for a variety of reasons.
- It poses grave dangers for the cohesion of a democratic society. The protection of human rights and the rule of law.
Freedom of speech and hate speech
- Article 19(2) of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression to all citizens of India.
- This article is subjected to certain restrictions, namely:
- sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.
- Provisions in clauses (2) to (6) of Article 19 authorizes the State to restrict the exercise of the freedom guaranteed under the article.
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Legal Provisions of Hate Speech (other than provisions of IPC)
- Representation of the People Act, 1951
- If a person is convicted for indulging in acts amounting to illegitimate use of freedom of speech and expression. Section 8 disqualifies them from contesting an election.
- Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955
- Section 7 penalizes incitement to, and encouragement of untouchability through words. Either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise.
- Suggestions by various committees
- The Law Commission has proposed that separate offences be added to the IPC to criminalize hate speech, instead of being subsumed in the existing sections concerning inflammatory acts and speeches.
- Similar proposals to add sections to the IPC to punish acts and statements that promote racial discrimination or amount to hate speech have been made by the P. Bezbaruah Committee and the T.K. Viswanathan Committee.
Under what provisions were the arrests made?
The arrests were under Sections 298 (uttering words, etc., intending to wound religious feelings), 295A (punishment for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 505 (2) (punishes statements conducing to public mischief), and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc. And doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of the IPC.
The invocation of these laws, also referred to as “hate speech laws,” has evoked frequent criticism for restricting free speech and misusing the legal process for political purposes.
These sections have a common requirement of “intention” or men’s rea to wound religious feelings or carry out malicious acts, among others. Thus, intention is an essential ingredient of the hate speech laws.
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Arrests in Maharashtra over Aurangzeb posts