Vital Intervention – Supreme Court verdict on hate speech | 24th October 2022 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about the recent SC verdict on hate speech.

Relevance: GS2: FRs, Policies of Government; GS1: Society; GS4

What's the crux of the article?

  • The SC directed the Police in the Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to act proactively in dealing with hate speeches. They should not wait for a formal complaint, said SC.
  • “Studied inaction” is said to be one of the causes of rising hate speeches.
    • It is a deliberate act of not taking action in case of the illegal activities by the enforcing agencies such as Police, regulatory bodies, etc.

What is hate speech?

  • Hate speech is neither defined in the Indian legal framework nor can it be easily reduced to a standard definition due to the myriad forms it can take.
  • In the 267th Report of the Law Commission of India, hate speech is stated as an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief and the like.

What's the legal framework in India regarding hate speech?

  • While India does not have a formal legal framework for dealing with hate speech, a set of provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), loosely defining hate speech, are invoked. These are primarily laws to deal with offences against religions.
  • Section 295A of the IPC defines and prescribes a punishment for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
  • The state often invokes Section 295A along with Section 153A
    Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, that punishes sending offensive messages through communication services is added when such speech is made online.


  • To uphold the constitutional values of secularism and fraternity among all religious and social groups, all stakeholders i.e. state, judiciary and people must act in synergy to develop a comprehensive framework to deal with hate speeches.

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