Hate speech is not free speech (in the context of Arnab Goswami matter)

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This article is written by RIYA KAUSHIK studying LL.B. in Geeta Institute of Law

On 19thMay 2020, Justice D.Y. Chandrachudarisingfrom a two-judge bench of the Supreme court refused bothto quash the proceedingas well as to transfer the investigation to CBI in respect of two different FIRs registered in Maharashtra against Arnab Goswami, the anchor of republic Bharat.The FIRinvoked various penal provisions of IPC relating to hate speechand criminal defamation. The broadcast contains the statements and accusations against Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.

The FIR claimed that the speech of Arnab Goswami contained hate speech. Hate speech is penalized under IPC; inwhich by words either spoken or written or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise another party is defamed.

Hate Speech- As defined by the Cambridge dictionary: Any public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.

In the case of Arnab Ranjan Goswami vs Union of India, Arnab Goswami claimed that he had only raised issues in relation to the tardy investigation of the incident of Palghar, Maharashtra, wherein three individuals were lynched by a mob. But the examination revealed the contrary to it. Instead of focusing only on the context of the facts of the matter, he focused his old debate that the 2 of the victims were SADHUS and because of it they were lynched by the mob.He ignored the third victim. He focused all his arguments to provethat the objective of the crime was communal.

Further, Arnab Goswami referred Sonia Gandhi as Antonia Maino several times in his speech and said that Sonia Gandhi has performedon the instructions of Italy. He also contended that Sonia Gandhi would soon send a report to Italy mentioning the no. of Hindus killed in the area where they made their governmentto get appreciation. During his entire speech, he tried to provoke Hindus to raise their voice against thisissue.

His speech included both Direct and Implicit hate speech.The direct speech also discussed above is of expressed form eitherwritten or oral. While Implicit hate speech is not just by the words, but the manner in whichthe words are said, and the visuals and graphics used to express them play an important role which is clearly done by Arnab Goswami during the debate. He stressed on the word ‘Hindus’ several times in his speech and posted many communal questions on the top and the bottom of the screen.

The supreme court held that Hate speech is not Free speech and Moreover, the freedom of speech given under the article 19(1)(a) ofthe Indian constitution cannot be used as defense in this case.

Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian constitution guarantees freedom of speech to all the individuals. It gives freedom to express opinion and ideas without any fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction.

Knowing the difference between hate speech or free speech

Free speech means the freedom of speech and expression of one’s thought while the hate speech spreads hatred. Saying anything defamatory/slanderousby taking the freedom of speech as defense, do not gives the liberty to say anything which can spread hatred among society.

In the Arnab Goswami’s matter, many people contended that he has used his right to free speech, but the words used by him and the way he expressed his ideas were highly aggressive in nature.

The purpose of the news channels should be to provide news with the facts which are not based on hypothesis but true events. These news channels are followed by a vast community and can lead toa great impact on publicopinion. The news should be given in a neutral manner which is not leaned towards any particular side, case, party, or community.

There is a thin line between free speech and hate speech. Freedom of speech as defense should not be used to spread hatred among the society as it can provoke any community to revolt.

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