Mains Q & A 1 March 2023
Q1. What exactly is "hate speech"? Think about the effect on society. Do you believe it has been successfully contained by the current legal and constitutional measures? (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS II Social Issues
Hate speech is any terminology used in speech, writing, or behaviour that attacks or disparages a person or group based on that person’s or group’s religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, gender, or other identity attribute.
The Law Commission’s 267th report on hate speech asserts that such statements have the potential to motivate individuals and entire societies to engage in acts of terrorism, genocide, and ethnic cleansing.
In international law, the term “hate speech” is contentious and subject to discussion; there is no universally accepted meaning of it.
Marginalized people are pushed outside of the social, economic, and political sectors of society by the dissemination of hate speech and the encouragement of prejudice.
It is considered to be the beginning of ethnic cleansing at its worst.
Personal Safety A bogus movie that exacerbated racial tensions was the cause of the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013. Hate speech and false information about minorities have contributed to the Western world’s anti-immigration mentality (e.g. : France, Italy, Greece)
People with similar political views often propagate biassed information and opinions that support their beliefs, strengthening them even when such notions were based on erroneous information. The “Bubble” phenomenon and user homophily are terms used to describe this. For instance, Twitter encourages users to follow people who tweet or express similar opinions.
evoking strong emotions False news spreads individuals and perspectives that were previously local but could be potentially dangerously similar, such as those of Kashmiri separatists and German neo-Nazis.
Mass lynching In Jharkhand, reports of kidnappings led to the lynching of helpless bystanders.
Violence: Whether deliberate or not, it fosters a hostile and disorderly atmosphere. Anti-Islamic animosity served as the inspiration for the terrorist attack on a mosque in Christchurch (a direct result of hate speech).
The Delhi Riots case 2020 demonstrates how misinformation and disinformation brought on by hate speech and fake news have led to conflict.
Immunity from the law on hate speech:
Criminal Code of India
Crimes that incite enmity and resentment between two groups are prohibited by IPC Sections 153A and 153B.
Acts that intentionally or purposely offend someone’s religious sensibilities are prohibited by Section 295A of the IPC.
Articles 505(1) and 505 prohibit the publication or distribution of anything that may incite hatred or animosity amongst different communities (2).
RPA Act, 1951:
A person found guilty of improperly using their right to free expression is prohibited from running for office, according to Section 8 of the Representation of People’s Act of 1951. (RPA).
The RPA’s paragraphs 123(3A) and 125 forbid and categorise as corrupt electoral practises the propagation of hatred on the grounds of race, religion, community, caste, or language in relation to elections.
How extensive are legal protections?
It could be challenging to distinguish between free speech and hate speech in a nation like India, which has a sizable population and a broad spectrum of backgrounds and traditions.
Speech restrictions should take into account a number of variables, including the frequency of strongly held beliefs, the potential to offend certain communities, and the potential impact on the ideals of equality, liberty, and dignity.
Even if such crimes are prohibited by law, more needs to be done.
Clarity, technological advancement, and a method to capture such content are essential in dealing with this, which threatens to disrupt society’s established order.
raising the bar for educating law enforcement and legal organisations on equality and non-discrimination, promoting the dissemination of this knowledge, and advancing research.
The Indian government has pushed internet service providers to set up their servers there in order to block offensive remarks in real time.
building opposing internet narratives and educating the public about counterextremism activities
There may be an internationally accepted law requiring social media corporations like Facebook to remove anything that is obviously illegal within 24 hours of receiving a request from the government of a particular jurisdiction.
Platforms for social media must be held accountable for openness, accountability, and a set of rules that users can recognise as standards and that, when enforced consistently, can start setting precedents. Users, law enforcement officials, and representatives of civil society will be able to identify the type of content that will probably be removed as a result.
Public authorities who fail to take action to stop vigilante organisations from sowing discord among communities, inciting hatred against fellow citizens, and enforcing the law without regard to the repercussions must be held accountable for failing in their duty of care and for disobeying this court’s orders.
The first step in tackling the problem would be to define hate speech clearly; other action, such as raising public awareness, is also urgently needed.
Q2. "No one shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty unless upon the lawful process of the law." Comment on the statement, mentioning any pertinent rulings from the Supreme Court of India. (150 Words)
Paper & Topic: GS II Constitutional Provisions
According to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, everyone is entitled to life and personal freedom. Both “life” and “personal liberty” have been given definitions that are quite inclusive of a wide spectrum of rights. Its deprivation is only possible through the established legal system. The term “life,” which has a wide range of applications, has been given a broad interpretation by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court’s interpretation of Article 21:
The entitlement to a life of dignity:
The Supreme Court of India declared in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India that the right to life protected by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution includes both the physical right to life and the right to live in dignity.
The right to life includes having access to sufficient food, clothing, and a roof over one’s head, according to the ruling in Francis Coralie v. Union Territory of Delhi.
Right against sexual harassment at work:
The court determined that sexual harassment of a working woman at work is a violation of her rights under Articles 14, 15, and 21 of the Indian Constitution in the case of Vishakha v. the State of Rajasthan. The regulations were put in place to protect a woman’s rights at work.
A healthy atmosphere:
According to Article 21, the opportunity to live in a dignified and secure environment is a component of the right to life.
Article 21 deals with maintaining several things, such as the environment, a suitable sanitization system, and health.
Although factories are necessary for the nation’s development, the Supreme Court held in the case of Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India that the concept of “sustainable development” must be adopted as a way of striking a balance because of the pollution they produce.
Right to knowledge or to information:
The right to know has been recognised by the courts as a crucial element of participatory democracy and is protected under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution in the case of Reliance Petrochemicals Ltd. vs. Proprietors of Indian Express Newspapers.
Rights of prisoners:
The protection afforded by Article 21 is also available to those who have been found guilty of any crime. Despite being stripped of his other rights, he is nonetheless entitled to the rights guaranteed by Article 21.
Correctly opposing unjustified detention:
In the case of K. Basu v. State of West Bengal, the Supreme Court defined the guidelines that must be followed by the Central and State investigative authorities in all instances of arrest and detention.
An accused individual has a constitutional right to free legal representation at the state’s expense if they are unable to pay for it because of poverty, indigence, or being kept incommunicado, according to the decision in Hussainara Khatoon v. State of Bihar. The Indian Constitution’s Article 21 guarantees this right.
In this case, the court ruled that the woman who was considering marriage to a person who had a dreadful sickness was entitled to all universal human rights, and that this included the right to know that person had a terminal, sexually transmissible condition, which is protected by Article 21.
Rights to privacy:
In the recent case of Judge K.S. Puttuswamy vs. Union of India and Others, the Supreme Court ruled that privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.
Right to a respectful end of life:
The Supreme Court expanded the right to life to include the right to a dignified death.
It authorised “living wills” that allow individuals who are terminally ill or who are in a persistent and incurable vegetative state (PVS) to pass away with dignity by forgoing medical care or life support. Moreover, it approved passive euthanasia.
An Article 21 right is not unalienable. The right to life and liberty may be restricted by the State, but any restrictions must be just, equitable, and compliant with the law. But, it cannot be halted in an emergency. The basic right, which the Supreme Court referred to as the “heart of fundamental rights” in the Unni Krishnan case, is one of the most important rights protected by Article 21.
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