Where lies the balance?
“Some people’s idea of free speech is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back that is an outrage”
This quote shows that there is a thin line that shows the difference between hate speech and free speech. Free speech boost debates whereas hate speech encourages violence among human beings. According to article 19(1), all the citizen of India has freedom for speech and expression. Freedom of speech and expression is an important fundamental right given by the constitution of India to the citizen of the country. But along with the right, the constitution of India has introduced some reasonable restriction under article19(2) which says that for the sake of freedom of speech which provides the liberty to every individual in the country, no person can marginalize or defame any person, religion, class, community, race, language, etc. then the liberty will be taken away. When a person uses a language or expression that hurt the feeling of a community, class, races, or any person living in the country and hampers the sovereignty and integrity of the country than free speech converts into hate speech and it also breaks down the society and becomes an obstacle in the growth and evolvement of the society in serval ways.
According to the black law dictionary, hate speech is a speech that carries no meaning other than the expression of hatred for some group, such as a particular race, especially in circumstances in which the communication is likely to provoke violence.
To decide whether the speech is hated speech or not than the one must judge the standard of the word whether they are hurting the feeling or defaming a particular class, race, culture, religion, etc. from a hostile point of view. The negative stereotype of people leads the one to think that he is superior and the minorities or other groups are less worthy of respect and inferior. This view is expressed through words that show and spread hate in the air. The thinking of dominating other, misconception, myths and serotype against a particular group of people, religion, community, etc are the causes of prejudice towards the people and generate a feeling of contempt which give birth to hate speech.
According to 267 reports of the law commission of India liberty and equality are co-related to each other. Freedom of speech is provided with the bona fide intention to provide the right to all the citizens of India, and not to discriminate against any group of minorities, religion race class color, etc. This right is also given to provide equality to all the citizens and everyone can take their stand not to abuse or spread hatred in the country. This right is provided to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the country not to hamper it.
Law regulating hate speech
Section 153A and 153B of IPC 1860 clear that any act that promotes hatred, hurt, or lack of harmony towards a particular religion, race, community, and language than the act will be a punishable offense. The main objective of this section is “to check fissiparous communal and separatist tendencies and secure fraternity to ensure the dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation”
Section 295A of IPC says that the act is a punishable offense if anyone in the country deliberately or with wrongful intention hurts the feeling of any religion, the belief of any religion, or any class of that religion, insult, or attempt to insult the religion than the person is liable. Under this section, the intention must be deliberate and mala fide. This section only punishable for the aggravated sentences, insults, or abuse of any religion which are made with mala fide and deliberate intention of only Indian citizens, it does not make all the acts punishable which are not grave.
Section 298A of IPC says that the act which disrespects the feeling of any religion than the act will be punishable offenses. Any malicious or mala fide intention to hurt the sentiments of any religion then the act will be a punishable offense. This section deals with hurting the feelings of religion only, not every person.
Section 505(1) and 505(2) of IPC says that if any person making, publishing, or spreading unwanted rumor in the society which creates hated towards a person and indicating that the person or group of people have committed an offense against another community and prove them to promote hatred or enmity towards various religion, language, community, race, etc.
Section 95 of Criminal Procedure Code which says that state government has the right to prohibited any propaganda or false publishing which the government feels that it spread hatred and comes under section 124A, or section 153A, or section 153B, or section 292, 293, 295A of IPC. The state government must form an opinion whether the publication contains such words or expression that comes under section 124A, or section 153A, or section 153B, or section 292, 293, 295A of IPC than the state government can declare that every copy of the newspaper, or books, or any other form of documentation containing such mater must be forfeited to the government.
Section 107 of the Criminal Procedure Code says that the executive magistrate has the power to prevent any person from committing any wrongful act that may disturb the peace or public tranquillity.
Section 124A(Sedition) of IPC says that any word or expression that creates hatred about the government in the society is a punishable offense. In other words, a Sedition is an act that brings hatred, contempt, or disaffection towards the state and it is a punishable offense under section 124A.
Section 8 of the representation of people’s acts prohibits a person from standing in an election for the offenses he has committed under the sack of freedom of speech and expression. In other words, section 8 restricts any person from participating in the election who has been accused of felonious and unlawful actions using the right of freedom of speech and expressions.
Section 123(3A) and 125 forbid a person from promoting and propaganda enmity, hatred, contempt, antagonism, resentment towards any religion, race, caste, language, or community under the reference of election will be considered as an unlawful and corrupt practice.
This can be concluded from the above article that free speech is the right of all the citizen and provided so that every citizen has a voice which they can raise against an unbearable activity but the people has converted the free speech into hate speech to dominate the other and want to become superior. Hate speech is a statement that harms the mental health of a person. It has been found that the marginalized community is often harassed through words and expressions because of the feeling of hatred and contempt. People spread hatred among the society regarding religion, community, language, race, etc. based on a negative stereotype, myths, and misunderstanding. The marginalized groups and oppression are the major victims of hate speech. Traditionally hate speech is permitted under freedom of speech and expression but now various laws have been formed which distinguished between hate speech and free speech. This show free speech is not converted into hate speech until it does not harm the sentiments of any culture, religion, community, caste, language, or group of people.
India is a democratic country where it is mandatory to control freedom of speech and expression and prevent it to convert into hate speech. So, for the same purpose, the government has formed various laws. Fundamental laws are not abused in the country but it is not enforced correctly. The government has implemented various laws but they are not active as they should. People must be aware of the laws so that the marginal community and oppression must raise their voices instead of choosing the option of silence. The government establishes by the law of India must prioritize the objective of providing a secular and multicultural environment to the people so that the country must maintain peace and harmony. This will help the government to establish a healthy and harmonious relationship among various religions, communities, or groups of people in the country. India is a secular country and all the Indians are equal in the eye of laws. So, every citizen has the right to speak but when it crosses the limit the bar has to put limitations. the government must raise awareness among the people, and this education system of the country must take reasonable steps to promote unity. It is highly necessary as the generation will carry the knowledge and power unity forward and this can be done only when the people are educated and know the value of unity. This will help the government and the country to grow and reduces terrorism in the country. It will also enhance the relationship between various religions, communities, and groups of people. The citizen of the country must obey the rules and understand the limits of free speech and use it accordingly. This will prevent the conversion of free speech into hate speech.