Hate Speech: Interpreting Section 153A of the IPC

  • The Supreme Court emphasised that in order to commit an offence under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), two or more groups or communities must be at odds with one another.
  • Politicians are frequently arrested under Section 153 A of the IPC for allegedly inciting hatred. 

Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)

  • Section 153A of the IPC prohibits fostering hatred between various groups on the basis of religion, race, place of birth, domicile, language, and so on.
  • The fundamental goal is to avoid the spread of disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred, or ill will among different groups in society.
  • It was added to the penal code in 1898 and was not originally part of it.

Prohibited Acts:

  1. The provision prohibits the following acts:
  2. Participating in actions that encourage or attempt to foster feelings of hostility or hatred between different religious, racial, linguistic, or regional groups.
  3. Committing activities that undermine the maintenance of harmony among diverse groups or communities.
  4. Doing anything that disturbs or disrupts public peace or causes dissatisfaction among numerous groups. 

Essential elements:

  1. To create an offence under Section 153A, the following components must be established:
  2. Encouragement of hostility or hatred amongst various groups.
  3. Religion, race, location of birth, domicile, language, and other factors must all be considered when promoting.
  4. The act must be intended to disrupt public tranquillity or to cause discord among groups. 

Punishment for violating Section 153A 

  • Includes imprisonment for up to three years, a fine, or both.
  • Cognizable and Non-Bailable: The offence is cognizable, and the punishment can range from three years to a fine or both. Furthermore, the offence is non-bailable, and the accused will be tried by a first-class magistrate.
  • Burden of Proof: The prosecution must demonstrate that the accused’s statements, acts, or conduct were intended to promote animosity or hatred between different groups on the enumerated grounds. 

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