India

EC to Supreme Court: no hate speech law, relying on IPC, RP Act

Election Commission tells Supreme Court there are no laws against hate speech in India, so it relies on Indian Penal Code and Representation of the People Act.

There’s no law in India that defines hate speech…The Election Commission of India uses various provisions of the IPC and the RP Act-1951 to prevent ‘hate speech’ and ‘rumor mongering’ during elections in the absence of any specific law that governing it. In an affidavit, the EC told the SC that members of political parties or even other people shouldn’t make statements that would create disharmony between different sections of society.

Affidavit was filed in response to a request for directions to curb “hate speech” by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

As the EC pointed out, the SC dealt with the issue of “hate speech” during elections in Pravasi Bhalai Sangathan vs Union of India in 2014, where the petitioner pleaded for the state to take action. In the affidavit, the SC said implementing existing laws would fix the problem a lot.

Affidavit says the matter was referred to the Law Commission “to examine whether it thinks it’s appropriate to define the term hate speech” and make recommendations to Parliament to strengthen the EC.

However, the Law Commission report didn’t make any recommendation about the specific query…whether the Election Commission of India should have the power to derecognize a political party, disqualifying its members…for hate speech… nor did the EC make any suggestions to Parliament on strengthening the EC to curb the menace,” the EC said.

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