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PIL filed in SC seeking implementation of Law Commission's report on hate speech


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Lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay on Thursday filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Supreme Court seeking its immediate direction to implement the Law Commission's report on alleged hate and inflammatory speech.
In 2017, the Law Commission had defined hate and inflammatory speech and suggested to add Section 153-C and 505-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), on the direction of the apex court, Upadhyay's petition stated.
"Keeping in view the dreadful effects of hate speech on the dignity of an individual, fraternity, unity and national integration, the top court should order or issue a direction to the Centre, to take appropriate steps to implement the recommendations of Law Commission report, the plea said.
"Under Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, an appeal on the grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language, and promotions of feelings of enmity between different classes constitute corrupt practice. The same can be questioned only by way of an election petition and the Election Commission cannot order the investigation even when the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is in force," it added.
As there is no provision to challenge the corrupt practice of candidates, who lost the election. Thus, the appeal on the grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language and promotions of feelings of enmity between different classes cannot be questioned even by way of an election petition, Upadhayay said in the plea.
"It has been observed that since 1990, not only in parliamentary elections, but in state assembly elections, hate speech is made to support particular party and candidate, which is against the basic dictum of a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic like ours," the plea said.
"The hate speech has the potential of provoking individuals to commit acts of terrorism, genocides and ethnic cleansing," it stated.
Upadhyay said that such hate speeches are considered outside the realm of protective discourse.
"Offensive speech has real and devastating effects on people's lives and risks their health and safety. It is harmful to communities and hampers social progress," the plea stated.
Upadhyay earlier on Wednesday said that 'hate speech, paid news and fake news' were 'three menaces' to the country.
He had also said that the Law Commission's report was pending since 2017.
"It's high time to define hate speech, paid news and fake news and enact strict laws to curtail these three menaces of our country. Law Commission Report No 267 on Hate Speech is pending since 2017," Upadhyay tweeted.

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First Published: Feb 27 2020 | 1:31 PM IST

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