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Home Ministry Panel to Define Hate Speech, Propose Section on Offences Relating to Speech & Expression

A view of the MHA office in New Delhi. (Photo: PTI)

A view of the MHA office in New Delhi. (Photo: PTI)

On April 30, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a plea challenging the legal validity of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that deals with the offence of sedition.

A panel originally set up for suggesting reforms in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) will now propose a separate section on “offences relating to speech and expression” and will attempt to define “hate speech."

According to an exclusive report by The Hindu, there is no clear definition of what constitutes a “hate speech” in the IPC. The Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws, constituted by the Home Ministry, is attempting for the first time to define such speech.

The committee is expected to submit its report soon. Earlier this month, observing that an extreme or harsh point of view would not amount to hate speech, the Bombay High Court quashed an FIR against a Navi Mumbai resident.

The right to express one’s views is a protected and cherished right in our democracy, merely because the point of view of the petitioner is extreme or harsh will not make it a hate speech as it is only expressing a different point of view, a division bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik had observed.

RELATED NEWS

On April 30, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a plea challenging the legal validity of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that deals with the offence of sedition.

The sedition law has been challenged by two journalists- Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha from Manipur and Kanhaiya Lal Shukla from Chhattisgarh on the grounds that the law violates the fundamental right of speech and expression.

Both journalists are now facing sedition charges in their respective states for comments made by them on social media.

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first published:May 26, 2021, 12:06 IST