India

What Centre said when asked about definition, stats of hate crime

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The recent beheading of a Hindu tailor, Kanhaiya Lal, in Rajasthan’s Udaipur and the threats to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that followed in two videos have raised the issue of hate crime in India once again.

Laws against hate crime, religious lynching, and hate speech have been demanded by numerous notable individuals and social activists in India.

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POLITICIANS DRAG FEET ON LEGISLATIONS

Since the Supreme Court of India condemned the “sweeping phenomenon” of lynchings and mob violence in its Tehseen S Poonawalla-ruling in July 2018, the court has issued several directives to the Centre and state governments to prevent such incidents and has been keeping an eye on their compliance.

Political parties, on the other hand, have mostly been reluctant to take a meaningful step forward in debating hate crime legislation.

Since the 1980s, India’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has been tracking and publishing the nation’s crime statistics. However, it stopped tracking religious killings in 2017.

WHY NCRB STOPPED PUBLISHING HATE-CRIME DATA

On December 21, 2021, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told the Lok Sabha that the NCRB had discontinued the exercise of collecting data on hate crime as it was “unreliable”. The MHA also told Lok Sabha that the word “anti-national” had not been defined under the law.

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When asked whether it was true that the NCRB had collected data on the hate crimes, cow vigilantism and mob lynchings, but left it out of its 2017 Report, Minister of State (Home) Nityanand Rai responded, saying, “In 2017, NCRB collected data on cases of mob-lynching, hate crimes, etc. It was observed that the data was unreliable as these crimes have not been defined. Hence, collection of data in this regard was discontinued”.

When asked whether the Government has made any efforts to define ‘hate crime’ in the criminal law framework of the country, Rai responded: “The intention of the government is to create a legal structure which is citizen-centric, prioritises to secure life, preserve human rights and provide speedy justice to the vulnerable sections of the society. The amendments in laws is a continuous process and amendments are made taking into account the views of various stakeholders.”

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HATE CRIME IN INDIA

As opposed to an individual’s right to freedom of expression and the harm caused by hate speech, hate crimes in India are defined in terms of the harm done to a community as a whole.

Hate speech that is motivated by a person’s race, religion, ethnicity, or culture is illegal in India.

Due to the variety of forms, it might take, hate speech is neither defined by Indian law nor is it simply reduced to a conventional definition.

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INDIAN LAWS AROUND HATE SPEECH

The term’s various variants are recognised by the laws, despite the fact that it is not stated in any statute at all.

According to the IPC’s sections 153A, 153B, 295A, 298, 505(1), and 505(2), any spoken or written words that incite hostility, hatred, or insults based on race, caste, ethnicity, culture, language, region, or other factors are illegal and subject to punishment.

153A: It punishes the encouragement of hostility between various groups.

153B: It penalises allegations and claims that are harmful to national integration.

505: It penalises rumours and disinformation that encourage hostility among the community.

295A: In order to fight hate speech, Section 295A makes it illegal to disparage someone’s religious beliefs by using language with malice or intent.

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