The 5-member Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws headed by Vice Chancellor of National Law University (NLU), Delhi (Currently – Srikrishna Deva Rao).The Committee is appointed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to reform Indian Penal Code (IPC) is set to propose a separate Section in IPC on ‘Offences relating to speech and expression’.
- Purpose – At present there is no definition of what is ‘Hate Speech’ in IPC, The Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws is attempting for the 1st time to define it.
- Several ‘hate speech’ cases are pending in courts across India, as there is no clear definition of it in the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
- The committee is set to report its report soon.
Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws
i.It was constituted in May 2020 to undertake a review of criminal laws in India.
It will recommend reforms in a principled, effective, and efficient manner, ensuring the safety and security of the individual, community and nation.
ii.Members of the committee
- Srikrishna Deva Rao (Current Chairperson)– Vice-Chancellor, National Law University (NLU), Delhi
- S. Bajpai (Member and convenor)- Registrar, NLU Delhi
- Balraj Chauhan (Member) – Vice-Chancellor, Dharmashastra NLU Jabalpur
- Mahesh Jethmalani (Member)- Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India
- P. Thareja (Member)- Former District and Sessions Judge, Delhi.
iii.It will also take into account the recommendations made by the T K Viswanathan committee, which recommended strong laws to deal with online hate speech.
iv.The changes proposed by the committee will be examined by the Ministry before the changes are adopted.
T K Viswanathan Committee
i.In 2018, MHA told the Law Commission to prepare a distinct law for online ‘hate speech’ based on a report by former Lok Sabha Secretary General T K Viswanathan.
- The committee proposed inserting Sections 153 C (b) and Section 505 A in the IPC for incitement to commit an offence on grounds of religion, race, caste or community, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, place of birth, residence, language, disability or tribe. It proposed punishment by up to two years along with a ₹5,000 fine.
ii.However in 2019, MHA decided to modernize the IPC ( framed in 1860) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) after seeking suggestions from States, Supreme Court, High Courts, the Bar Council of India, Bar Council of States, Universities and Law institutes.
Previous attempts to define ‘Hate Speech’
The Bureau of Police Research and Development in its manual for investigating agencies on cyber harassment cases has defined hate speech as a ‘language that denigrates, insults, threatens or targets an individual based on their identity and other traits (such as sexual orientation or disability or religion etc)’.
Recent Related News:
From July 4, 2020, the Central Committee for reforms in Criminal Law, headed by Ranbir Singh was constituted by MHA will start a 3 months long online consultation exercise for reforming the IPC.
About Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA):
Union Minister – Amit Shah(Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat)
Minister of State – G. Kishan Reddy( Secunderabad, Telangana), Nityanand Rai(Ujiarpur, Bihar)