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Act swiftly against hate speech or face contempt, SC tells states

According to data collated by the National Crime Records Bureau, cases saw almost a sixfold increase between 2014 and 2020

Hate Speech

illustration: ajay mohanty

BS Reporter

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With the Supreme Court extending the scope of its 2022 order on hate speech beyond three states, all states and Union Territories will now have to register cases against those making hate speeches, even if no complaint has been made.

A Bench of Justices K M Joseph and B V Nagarathna last week termed hate speeches a “serious offence capable of affecting the secular fabric of the country”.

The apex court warned any delay on the part of the administration in taking action on this “very serious issue” will invite court contempt.

The order came even as data reveals a dramatic rise in cases filed under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 153A (promotion of enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, and language).

According to data collated by the National Crime Records Bureau, cases saw almost a sixfold increase between 2014 and 2020.

While 2014 saw the least number of cases (323) in seven years, the year 2020, with 1,804 cases, saw the highest.

In 2020, Tamil Nadu registered the highest number of cases under this Section (303), followed by Uttar Pradesh (243), Telangana (151), Assam (147), and Andhra Pradesh (142).

While there is no specific law that defines hate speech, there are select legal provisions or Sections in the IPC that prohibit certain forms of speech, except for free speech.

The conviction rate of cases under Section 153 was as low as 20 per cent in the five years between 2016 and 2020.

In 2016, 15.3 per cent of cases ended in convictions, while in 2020, the conviction rate has risen a little to 20.4 per cent.

Source: National Crime Records Bureau


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First Published: Apr 30 2023 | 9:39 PM IST

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