WHY IN THE NEWS?
The recent controversy surrounding the comments by BJP spokespersons has put the spotlight on the law that deals with criticism of or insult to religion in IPC Sec 295A.
- Provisions in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) primarily Section 295A,
- Define the contours of free speech and its limitations with respect to offences relating to religion.
SECTION 295A & OTHERS
- It defines and prescribes punishment for deliberate and malicious acts,
- It’s intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs
- IPC Sec 295A is one of the key provisions in the IPC chapter to penalise religious offences
- The chapter includes offences to penalise damage or defilement of a place of worship with intent to insult the religion (Section295);
- trespassing in a place of sepulture (Section 297);
- uttering, words, etc, with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person (Section 298);
- disturbing a religious assembly (Section296)
USE OF SECTION295(A) ALONG WITH SECTION 153A:
- To penalises promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc.
SECTION505 OF THE IPC
- Doing acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony punishes statements conducing public mischief.
- In cases where religious hate speeches are online, Section 66A of the Information Technology Act is invoke.
- In a verdict in 2015, the Supreme Court struck down Section66A as unconstitutional on the ground that the provision was vague and a violation of free speech.
· Rangila Rasool was a tract that had made disparaging remarks about the Prophet’s private life.
Ø This debate in interpretation prompted the colonial government to enact Section 295A with a wider scope to address these issues.
· In 1957, the constitutionality of Section 295A was challenge in Ramji Lal Modi v State of Uttar Pradesh.
Ø The Supreme Court upheld the law on the grounds that it was brought in to preserve “public order”.
· Ina1960 ruling, in Baba Khalil Ahmed v State of Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court said that malicious intent of the accused can be determine not just from the speech in question but also from external sources.
· In 1973, in Ramlal Puri v State of Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court said the testto be applied is whether the speech in question offends the “ordinary man of common sense” and not the “hyper sensitive man”.
Read more: UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS
SOURCE: INDIAN EXPRESS