Hate crimes are the crimes that are motivated by prejudice, and also known as bias-motivated crimes because these are inspired by bias against an individual or social group because of specific differences, majorly in their religious practices and customs. These crimes affect the security of individuals, their communities, and societies as a whole. Hate crimes are criminal acts motivated by bias or prejudice towards particular groups of people. A hate crime is when someone commits a crime against you because of your disability, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion, or any other perceived differences. In contemporary times its meaning has proliferated beyond lynching, discrimination, and offensive speeches and now encompasses speech that is insulting, derogatory, or incites and violence.
Types of Hate Crimes: –
Hate Crimes can be divided into three parts – physical Assault, verbal abuse, and incitement to be hatred.
- Physical Assault: – Physical Assault takes place when an individual or a group provokes and attacks a person physically, with or without the use of a weapon, or threatens to hurt that person. Physical Assault of any kind is an offence. Mob Lynching is an example of Physical Assault, where a person is killed or almost killed by a mob.
- Verbal abuse: – Verbal abuse is the use of words to cause harm to the person being spoken. The most commonly understood form is name-calling. Verbal abuse may consist of shouting, insulting, intimidating, threatening, shaming, demeaning, or derogatory language, among other forms of communication. Verbal abuse may lead to stress, depression, physical ailments, and further damage. In India, the incidents of Verbal Abuse have been on the rise, and the laws altogether, have not been very useful in this aspect. Therefore, it becomes a matter of urgent concern to not only regulate hate speech but to adopt such practices that can undo the damage that hate speech causes.
- Incitement to be Hatred: – The offence of incitement to hatred occurs when someone acts in a way that is threatening and intended to stir up hatred. That could be in words, pictures, videos, music, and includes information posted on websites.
Hate content may include:
- messages calling for violence against a specific person or group
- web pages that show pictures, videos or descriptions of violence against anyone due to their perceived differences
- chat forums where people ask other people to commit hate crimes against a specific person or group
Nature of Hate Crimes
Hate crimes are very different from many other Crimes in India. These crimes have a sense of biases attached to the motive, which is not there with any other type of crime. We can understand the nature of Hate crimes from the following Points-
- Hate Crimes, though different, are always based on a crime that is penal and therefore imposes some form of punishment. It makes hate crime an offence under domestic criminal law and enunciates its criminality.
- A hate crime is always motivated by biases. It only when there is a bias that a criminal act forms into a hate crime. The factor to be observed is the selection of a victim based on prejudice based upon his religion, community, gender, and the like.
- Hate crimes are an extreme form of discrimination. It is committed out of some big difference present in the community against the other, which makes the former discriminate the later and in dire condition commit crimes against them because of their biases.
- In the case of Hate crimes, the target is always an individual or a group of individuals with common characteristics that are noticeable and results in the differences and biases.
- Hate crimes have a varying degree of occurrences, which ranges from vandalism to physical abuse and even sometimes homicide. The gravity of hate crimes is based upon the brutality and cruelty to which they amounted and its effect on the society as a whole.
Laws connected to Hate Crimes
India does not have any separate regulations for Hate crimes, but many provisions of existing laws and codes deal with them.
Indian Penal Code
Indian Penal Code has many provisions to restrict the right to free speech and expression, so it controls Verbal abuse Hate crimes, and some provisions deal with Mob lynching because mob lynching is an act culpable homicide amounting to murder.
Section 153A: – Whoever (a) by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, promotes or attempts to promote, on the grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, or (b) commits any act which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, and which disturbs or is likely to disturb the public tranquility, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
Section 295(A): – Whoever, with the deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of [citizens of India], [by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to [three years], or with fine, or with both.
Section 302: – This section of IPC deals with punishments related to murder, i.e., the person who commits murder is punished either with a sentence of death or imprisonment for life. In many cases, the convict may even be liable to penalized.
Section 304: – This section deals with punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder which may be
- Life imprisonment for life
- imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to a fine in case the act is done to kill or cause the injury that is likely to cause death.
- Imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both, if the act is done with the knowledge that it is likely to cause death or the injury that is likely to cause death, but without any intention.
Section 307: – This section deals with the punishment in case of attempt to murder. A person who does an act with an intention or knowledge that his action may cause death would be guilty of murder and is to be punished with imprisonment of either for a term of up to ten years and also be liable to fine.
Section 323: – This section defines the punishment for causing hurt voluntarily. Whoever, except if provoked as per section 334, willingly causes broken, is bound to be punished with imprisonment which may extend to one year, or with fine (up to one thousand rupees), or with both.
Section 34: – This section highlights the punishment for Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention. When several persons do a criminal act regarding a common intention, each of such persons is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone.
Manav Suraksha kanoon
National Campaign Against Mob Lynching drafted a bill known as the Manav Suraksha Kanoon (MASUKA) to begin a legal conversation against lynch mobs. Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of BR Ambedkar, and activist Tehseen Poonawalla drafted a law to accommodate a new rule regarding mob violence by amending article 21 of the constitution of India. It also mandates that the concerned SHO (Station House Officer) of the area would be suspended until a time-bound judicial probe absolves him of charges. It will also work to provide relief to the affected people and rehabilitate them and their families.
Considering present India, cases of hate crimes are on a record high. India has witnessed numerous Hate crimes, mainly mob lynching reports from various parts of the country recently. There is no doubt that the lynching activities based on identity discriminate against a whole community, which violates Article 14 and Article 15 of the Constitution of India. Given the situation of mob attacks in the country presently, there is a need for separate legislation and strict implementation procedures to curb the attacks and punish the wrongdoers. Laws such as “Manav Suraksha Kanoon” are needed to be enforced, and strict actions should be taken against violators of hate crime laws. It is to be noted here that these crimes are fundamentally different from other types of violent crime, and therefore are to be looked from a different angle. It is only through these steps we can curb the cancer of hate crimes out of our society.
Author: SHRADDHA JINDAL
Maharashtra National Law University, Aurangabad