The root of the problem in tackling the menace of hate speech is not absence of laws but lack of their effective execution, Supreme Court Judge Justice B S Chauhan said today.
Addressing the Dr Anandswarup Gupta Memorial Lecture on "Freedom of Expression and Hate Speech: Role of Police and Civil Society", Justice Chauhan said the legislations available already have sufficient and effective remedy for prosecution of the author who indulges in hate speeches and similar practices. "The statutory provisions and particularly the penal law provide sufficient remedy to curb the menace of 'hate speeches'. Thus, a person aggrieved must resort to the remedy provided under a particular statute.
"The root of the problem is not absence of laws but rather a lack of their effective execution," the Supreme Court judge said in his keynote address during the event organised by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD). The BPRD is a department under the Union Home Ministry which formulates policies and protocols for betterment of various police services and its allied agencies.
Justice Chauhan said the executive as well as civil society has to perform its role in enforcing the already existing legal regime. "Effective regulation of hate speeches at all levels is required as the authors of such speeches can be booked under the existing penal law and all the law enforcing agencies/police must ensure that the existing law is not rendered a dead letter," he said.
Justice Chauhan expressed concern when he said he finds lack of vigilance on the part of "state actors" in the protection of human rights saying this resulted in the increased prominence on the part of "non-state actors" in protection of the human rights. "The expression non-state actors include NGOs, multi- nationals, armed groups, educational institutions, religious organisations, private individuals, the media and multi-lateral financial institutions like IMF and the World Bank," he said.
Justice Chauhan said efforts of such "non-state actors" in protecting freedom of speech and expression are commendable and their openness in criticising the unnecessary restrictions on this right has been rewarding. "In the past they (non-state actors) have gone against hate speeches raising the issues in various fora including Judiciary," he said.
He lauded the role of media on this issue saying "the press has repeatedly played the role of a 'social scientist', a critic, evaluator of plans and schemes by providing thoughts and ideas, helped the poor and weaker sections of the society to have access to justice, dispensation of social justice by various means and correcting arbitrary power of executive." Moreover, he said, the press has also helped in maintenance of rule of law.