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Hate Crimes in India

  • 07 Feb 2023
  • 5 min read

For Prelims: Hate Crimes, Article 14, IPC Sections (153A 153B, 295A).

For Mains: Indian Laws Against Hate Crimes, Major Factors Responsible for Hate Crime, Possible Ways to Deal with Hate Crimes in India.

Why in News?

Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) observed that there is a growing consensus around hate speech and stressed there is no scope for hate crimes on the basis of religion in a secular country like India. And, it is the primary duty of the State to protect citizens from hate crimes.

What are Hate Crimes?

  • About:
    • Hate crimes refer to violent or abusive acts committed against individuals or groups based on their religion, caste, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or other identities.
      • These crimes often involve acts of violence, intimidation, or threats, and they target individuals or groups who are perceived as being different or marginalized.
    • The Indian Constitution guarantees equality and prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth, (Article 14) but despite this, hate crimes remain a persistent problem in the country.
  • Indian Laws Against Hate Crimes:
    • Hate crime is neither well defined in the Indian legal framework nor can it be easily reduced to a standard definition due to the myriad forms it can take.
      • However, Hate speeches are dealt under IPC under Sections 153A, 153B, 295A, 298, 505(1) and 505(2) that declares that word, spoken or written, that promotes disharmony, hatred, or insults on basis of religion, ethnicity, culture, language, region, caste, community, race etc., is punishable under law.
  • Major Factors Responsible for Hate Crime:
    • Religious and Ethnic Tensions: India is a diverse country with a multitude of different religious and ethnic groups. These tensions often lead to violence and hate crimes.
    • Caste-based Discrimination: India has a long history of caste-based discrimination, which has contributed to the marginalization of certain groups and the perpetration of hate crimes against them.
    • Lack of Political Will: Despite the presence of laws and regulations to address hate crimes, the lack of political will to enforce them effectively has created a permissive environment for such crimes to occur.
    • Social Media and Misinformation: The spread of hate speech and misinformation on social media can further fuel tensions and contribute to the perpetration of hate crimes.

What are Possible Ways to Deal with Hate Crimes in India?

  • Awareness Campaigns: The first step in addressing hate crime is to raise awareness about its harmful effects on individuals and society as a whole.
    • Mass media campaigns and community outreach programs can be used to educate people about the consequences of hate crime and encourage them to report such incidents.
  • Community Engagement: Communities can play an important role in addressing hate crime. This can be done by creating spaces where people can come together and have open and honest discussions about the issues that divide them.
    • This can also help to build bridges between different communities and foster greater understanding and respect.
  • Use of Technology: Technology can be used to improve reporting and tracking of hate crimes. This can include developing online reporting systems and using data analytics to identify trends and hotspots for hate crime.
  • Restorative Justice Programs: Restorative justice programs aim to repair harm and build relationships between victims, offenders and the community.
    • These programs can be used in cases of hate crime to promote healing and reconciliation between affected communities.
  • Stiffer Penalties: Another way to deal with hate crime is to impose stiffer penalties on those who engage in such behaviour. This can serve as a deterrent to others who may be considering committing hate crimes.

Source: IE

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