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Citizens for Justice and Peace

Understand what constitutes Hate Speech And learn how to act against it

09, Jan 2018 | Teesta Setalvad
#hate-speech

There are at long last some indications that a few states at least are awakening to their constitutional duty to control the insidious saffron agenda of systematically spreading hatred against religious minorities as a prelude to violence. A countrywide action in this regard by concerned citizens and groups could go a long way in checking the burgeoning hate industry. CJP urges readers to take action against hate speech whenever it occurs. Here’s how.

How to file an FIR against Hate Speech

You can file an FIR under section 154 of the CrPC by registering it with a local police station. If the police argues on issues of jurisdiction (delays the action stating that the hate speech or writing was made elsewhere) you can, under law, insist that by hearing these words or such writing in the media/in a pamphlet or on television, you have been aggrieved by it and hence wish to file it there. In a worst case scenario, if the police refuses you can obtain an order from a local Magistrate for registration of an FIR under Section 156(3) of the CrPC.

The Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai, and other concerned citizens from Mumbai had, in 2003, petitioned the Supreme Court of India with the object of curbing hate speech. The apex court has issues notices to the two accused – Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi, and the VHP’s working president Ashok Singhal. The court also directed the governments of Gujarat, Maharashtra (where the complaints were filed) and Punjab (where Singhal made his offensive speech) and the police machinery of these states to investigate whether the offences were committed and report back to the court. Thereafter the Supreme Court directed action from a lower court and did not directly order the registration of an FIR, unfortunately.

Curb Hate Speech and Here’s How to Do It

Citizens and activists need to be on a constant alert as regards hate speech and writing. As many readers of CC will be aware, there are laws against this sort of abuse that are faulty but which we need to invoke, and use in order that a sustained campaign can be built for their reform and revision.

The first step towards acting on hate speech is to be alert in order to monitor/ tape/video–tape the entire text of such a speech. Sections 153A and 153B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) oblige the state to prosecute those guilty of such violations. Section 295 of the CrPC is also a section that can be invoked whenever there are deliberate attempts to disrupt communal harmony.

Thereafter, it is imperative to file a first information report (FIR). Experience shows that in the current political climate the police does not register an FIR and begin an investigation, even though duty bound to do so, unless it has clear political directions. Hence it is important for concerned citizens or organisations to register a complaint (either in person or by registered post) and, thereafter, if the police does not act, approach the courts to ask that such offences get investigated.

Reproduced below is the format in which the complaints were filed by a member of the Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai and others which activists might wish to use:

 

This resource was originally published in the April 2003 issue of Communalism Combat. We are re-publishing it in a modified form.

The IPC and Hate Speech

Indian Penal Code 1860

153–A. PROMOTING ENMITY BETWEEN DIFFERENT GROUPS ON GROUNDS OF RELIGION, RACE, PLACE OF BIRTH, RESIDENCE, LANGUAGE, ETC., AND DOING ACTS PREJUDICIAL TO MAINTENANCE OF HARMONY.

(1) Whoever –

(a) by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, promotes or attempts to promote, on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill–will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, or

(b) commits any act which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, and which disturbs or is likely to disturb the public tranquillity, or

(c) organizes any exercise, movement, drill or other similar activity intending that the participants in such activity shall use or be trained to use criminal force or violence or knowing it to be likely that the participants in such activity will use or be trained to use criminal force or violence, or participates in such activity intending to use or be trained to use criminal force or violence or knowing it to be likely that the participants in such activity will use or be trained to use criminal force or violence, against any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community and such activity, for any reason whatsoever causes or is likely to cause fear or alarm or a feeling of insecurity amongst members of such religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community,

shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

Offence committed in place of worship, etc. (2) Whoever commits an offence specified in sub–section (1) in any place of worship or in any assembly engaged in the performance of religious worship or religious ceremonies, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.

153–B. IMPUTATIONS, ASSERTIONS PREJUDICIAL TO NATIONAL INTEGRATION.

(1) Whoever, by words either spoken or written or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise,

(a) makes or publishes any imputation that any class of persons cannot, by reason of their being members of any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community, bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established or uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, or

(b) asserts, consents, advises, propagates or publishes that any class of persons shall, by reason of their being members of any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community, be denied or deprived of their rights as citizens of India, or

(c) makes or publishes any assertion, counsel, plea or appeal concerning the obligation of any class of persons, by reason of their being members of any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community, and such assertion, counsel, plea or appeal causes or is likely to cause disharmony or feelings of enmity or hatred or ill–will between such members and other persons,

shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

(2) Whoever commits an offence specified in sub–section (1), in any place of worship or in any assembly engaged in the performance of religious worship or religious ceremonies, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.

295–A. DELIBERATE AND MALICIOUS ACTS INTENDED TO OUTRAGE RELIGIOUS FEELINGS OF ANY CLASS BY INSULTING ITS RELIGION OR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS.

Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
  1. UTTERING WORDS, ETC., WITH DELIBERATE INTENT TO WOUND RELIGIOUS FEELINGS.
Whoever, with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person, utters any word or makes any sound in the hearing of that person or makes any gesture in the sight of that person or places any object in the sight of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
  1. STATEMENTS CONDUCING TO PUBLIC MISCHIEF.
(1) Whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report,

(c) with intent to incite, or which is likely to incite, any class or community of persons to commit any offence against any other class or community,

shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to [three years], or with fine, or with both.

(2) Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill–will between classes: Whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement or report containing rumour or alarming news with intent to create or promote, or which is likely to create or promote, on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever, feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

(3) Offence under sub–section (2) committed in place of worship, etc. —

Whoever commits an offence specified in sub–section (2) in any place of worship or in any assembly engaged in the performance of religious worship or religious ceremonies, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.

*** Feature Image iStock / Getty Images

 

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