The United Nations has defined human rights as the guaranteed rights that are inherent and are mandatory to live as a human being. Regardless of sex, race, creed, nationality, religion, language or ethnicity, every single human on the planet is entitled to these without any discrimination. Our nation braces itself as the largest known democracy in the world. The key note of our Constitution, the Preamble entitles ‘Sovereign, Secular, Democratic, Republic’. But unfortunately, over the past few years, the credibility of democracy is India has become a matter of hot debate even though it is a crucial symbol of the nation’s identity.
Our Constitution has gifted us many individual rights, Freedom of expression being one of them. In a lay man’s term, freedom of speech can be defined as the right to express one’s own opinions without the constraint of any person, organisation or the government at all. But in the current scenario, majority of the population have taken the literary definition of the term to a whole different level, resulting in chaos and birth of hate speech. One can define hate speech as any publicly made statement that is directed against a focused group of people belonging to the same race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion with the agenda to create mass fear and riots. In 99% of the cases, these hate speeches trigger xenophobic tendencies and give way to dehumanisation of a particular community, resulting in hatred and harm.
As a result, not only the relationship of communities among each other is hampered, but also the law and order get jeopardised. From time immemorial, the integration of hate speech under Article 19 (1) has emerged as a matter of discord, although clause (2) of Article 19 (1) states the guidelines under which immediate restrictions can be imposed if “there is a threat to the security of the state, to friendly relations with foreign states, public tranquility, decency and morality, to the fame of an individual or community and to the sovereignty of the nation to circumvent the exploitation of this right.”
Freedom of speech and expression doesn’t give one the right to say whatever they feel like, regardless of how indecent and impolite it could mean for any community. There is a fine difference between adhering to a certain view and expressing hate by provoking the mass. Now the dilemma arises, what to say and what not. The massive confusion pertaining is the result of fundamentalism as a result of which the human rights are violated.
Few nations in the current global scenario enjoy the sacred power of Freedom of expression. No one is entitled to justify his/her act of spreading wide hatred behind the veil of Freedom of expression. Our Constitution is firm in mentioning imprisonment as a punishment under IPC Section 295A, Section 153 and Section 505 (1) for anyone who dares to stain the thin line between hate speech and freedom of speech.
What needs to be done is the implementation of a critical and simpler understanding of the reality of the current scenario. A democracy can only breathe and flourish in a system when its Human Rights aren’t violated but are respected.