What constitutes Hate Speech? | Shahrukh Alam

In this video, Sharukh Alam, an Advocate at the Supreme Court of India, addresses the challenges of dealing with hate speech and hate crime in India.

In this video, Sharukh Alam, an Advocate at the Supreme Court of India, discusses the issues of hate speech, hate crime, and the legal framework surrounding them in India. The video highlights the challenges in addressing hate speech within the existing legal system, particularly the colonial legacy of laws like the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure. The speaker emphasises the need for a nuanced understanding of hate speech as a systemic issue that goes beyond episodic incidents.

The video opinion delves into the complexity of defining hate speech and the difficulties in setting a threshold for what constitutes such speech. The speaker draws attention to the systemic nature of hate speech, its discursive and narrative aspects, and the challenge of regulating it without impinging on free speech.

Furthermore, the speaker suggests exploring alternative approaches, such as seeking compensation through civil law, particularly in cases where there is a demonstrated constitutional harm. The connection between hate speech and discrimination, particularly against minorities, is highlighted. The speaker argues that hate speech is fundamentally majoritarian and is aimed at pushing marginalised communities outside of social, political, and economic spaces.

The discussion also touches upon the role of the judiciary in scrutinising cases of hate speech, especially when it involves limiting the democratic space for certain communities. The need for heightened judicial scrutiny in such cases is emphasised, while also acknowledging that legal interventions should be balanced to avoid unnecessary regulation and criminalization.

Sharukh Alam presents a comprehensive analysis of the challenges posed by hate speech, the systemic nature of the problem, and potential alternative approaches for addressing constitutional harm.