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  • 23 September, 2022

  • 6 Min Read

Hate Speech in the Media

Hate Speech in the Media

The "visual media" has recently been referred to as the "primary medium of hate speech" by the Supreme Court.

Details about the news

  • The bench was hearing a number of petitions over alleged hate speech on several TV programs.
  • The petitioners have asked the court to order the Center to take action to reduce instances of such speech.
  • The SC stated that it will take into account establishing some rules to level the playing field till the legislature creates a statute on the subject.

Hate speech: What Is It?

  • The notion of what constitutes "hate speech" is debatable and contentious, and there is no international legal definition of it.
  • The term "hate speech" refers to any language used in speech, writing, or behaviour that disparages or uses pejorative terminology with regard to an individual or a group of individuals based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, gender, or other identity-related characteristics.

The various reasons behind hate speech:

Hate speech undermines social equality by reinforcing historical oppression and marginalisation.

  • It is used to provoke violence and injure its victims physically and psychologically.
  • It is employed to incite people or entire societies to carry out terrorist attacks, genocides, ethnic cleansing, etc.
  • As the court correctly noted, TV networks broadcast hate speech to increase their TRPs and financial success.
  • It is a tool for spreading false rumours about certain individuals in order to spread terror.

The Indian Constitution and hate speech: Expression and Free Speech

According to Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution, which declares that all citizens have the right to freedom of speech and expression, it is safeguarded as a basic right.

Section 19(2):

The Indian constitution has proposed a reasonable restriction, where the term reasonable should strike a balance between the proper and improper uses of this right.

Additional guidelines for hate speech:

  • Promotion of hostility between different groups on the basis of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., as well as actions detrimental to the maintenance of harmony, are both punishable under Section 153A IPC.
  • Imputations and declarations that are harmful to national integration are punishable under Section 153B IPC.
  • "Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to offend religious emotions of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs" are punishable under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code.
  • "Uttering, remarks, etc., with malicious intent to damage the religious sensibilities of any person" is punishable under Section 298 of the IPC.
  • The publication or dissemination of any comment, rumour, or report that incites animosity, hostility, or ill will between classes is punishable under Section 505 of the IPC.
  • Hate speech is classified into two categories under Part VII of the Representation of People Act, 1951: electoral offences and corrupt practises. Sections 8, 8A, 123(3), 123(3A), and 125 of the RPA are the sections that apply to hate speech

Way Forward

  • Hate speech is frequently rooted in intolerance and hatred and breeds it. In some situations, it can also be degrading and polarising.
  • It poses a threat to societal harmony, democratic values, and peace. The government must always respond to hate speech as a matter of principle.
  • Hate speech has been addressed in ways other than through the existing legal system.
  • In order to curb hate speech and expression, particularly during elections, the government should also introduce broad reforms to criminal laws.

Source: The Hindu

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