By Daksha Dhiman
It started with a teenager, Gopal Sharma who started shooting the Anti CAA protesters on January 30 2020. On 4 July 2021 a highly provocative speech against the Muslim community given by him in a mahapanchayat in Pataudi, Haryana followed his arrest on 12 July on for inciting violence and disharmony in the public. He was charged with Sections 153A “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence” and Section 295A “deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) under the Indian Penal Code. The court regarded his act as unacceptable and something that people are resorting to in order to claim their goals. Today’s era has seen widespread protests be it against or for the government. But is every protest for a good cause? Every step has a positive and a negative impact. The issue of religion has become so sensitive in our secular constitutional framework which is ultimately hampering our democracy. India is known for its diverse culture and religions. People around the world look up to our country’s values and traditions which are exceptional. The fragile existence of religion in today’s era has the courts questioning the very existence of religious diversity and the consequences of such acts inciting violence in the name of religion and caste.
There’s a fear in everyone’s mind just because of the violence and hate many religious communities are getting that triggers the ultimate meaning of Articles 25 to 28 “(Article 25- freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion, Article 26 – Freedom to manage religious affairs, Article 27 – Freedom to the payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion and Article 28 – Freedom to attend religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions)” enshrined in our Indian Constitution giving the Indian citizens freedom to choose and profess their own religion. India has a wide range of Constitutional backup for religion but are they really enough for it’s citizen’s protection?
There have been several instances where people have murdered devotees of other religions just because they were promoting their own religion. The feeling of superiority and majority is what major people want. Despite the presence of various laws be it Articles in our Constitution or Sections under the Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure criminalising hate speech in India, people are still taking up to hate speech to get convince their target audience and maintain their powers.
Criticizing someone for their inaction or inefficient conduct cannot be concluded to be a Hate speech. Where a speech is influential enough that it could adversely affect the law and harmony of its citizens, that amounts to promoting hate speech and inciting violence. People have different interpretations of this term. People tend to identify with the instigator having an influential command and justify their actions to deal with their insecurities. Someone who tries to counter their actions is often pulled down. This is how disturbed the system has become.
The counsel from the teenager’s side had submitted that the video displaying the boy’s misconduct was false but the opposition utterly opposed all the statements of the accused’s counsel and stated that the accused instigated abduction and killing of girls in his speech which constitutes to violence and disrupts the true meaning of democracy.
The Gurgaon court while handling the case of a teenager arrested Hate speech concluded that such behaviour as displayed by the teenager can be a threat to the entire nation’s religious tolerance. Such people can not be allowed to promote such activities with disturbed mentality that could hamper the peace and harmony of various communities and would depict that these actions are permissible in the society. People should accept each other’s culture and religion and be religiously patient towards such matters.