Supreme Court on Hate Speech on TV Channels

Asia News Agency

Supreme Court on Hate Speech on TV Channels

The Supreme Court Wednesday expressed  concern on TV channels using  hate speeches to improve their viewership.

The Indian Express writes the top court has “rightly flagged what has become a disquieting routine on the airwaves not only at prime time but almost all the time: Talking heads spewing hate, nutcases passed off as experts as long as they can froth on a Hindu-Muslim issue, each one locked in a race to the bottom, and all this while, anchors provoking, cheering from the studio….. the bench has a point when it suggests this erodes the social compact, deepens the divide.”

SC proposes guidelines: Hearing petitions that seek directions from the Court to the government to curb hate speeches on TV channels, the judges have proposed that guidelines along the lines of ‘Vishaka’, the SC judgment on sexual harassment at workplace, can be put in place until the state brings in a law to regulate hate content on television.


‘The courts prescription is problematic’

Unfortunately, however, “the court’s prescription is problematic. Not only does it overlook the structural forces that enable this hate speech ecosystem, its solution could become more of a problem…….Hate speech has to be read within the purview of Article 19, which safeguards the freedom of speech. In numerous cases, the Supreme Court has upheld the primacy of Article 19 and warned against state overreach. It has also defined what constitutes hate speech. Any overarching law or guidelines to regulate speech stands the risk of violating the letter and spirit of Article 19. In a polarised discourse marked by imbalances of power, who will define hate speech?”

The court said the ‘visual media’ in India is the ‘chief medium of hate speech’ and felt that the government was ‘standing by as a mute witness when all this is happening’. The silence, in many cases, writes the paper “is strategic and deliberate….”

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