Don’t be ‘mute witness’ to hate speech, SC tells govt

New Delhi: The Supreme court stressed the need to have in place stricter regulations with the objective of monitoring TV debates which often turn into hate speech. As per the Supreme Court, the role of a news anchor is vital to ensure that his/her guests, on air, do not cross the line amid the recent spate of hate speeches allowed on televised channels.

A bench of Justices K M Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy asked the government why it had been a mute spectator in the scenario.

“These speeches on mainstream media or social media are unregulated. It’s (the anchors’) duty to see that hate speech doesn’t continue the moment someone does. Freedom of the press is important for a nation and we should know where to draw a line,” the Supreme Court underlined.

Citing an example from a channel overseas, the bench said while freedom of speech was important, hate speech cannot be allowed on television. The bench also noted that the situation in the country and the press in India were not as free as in the US, but one should be aware of drawing a prudent line.

“Hate speech is like a layered thing, like killing someone, you can do it in multiple ways, slowly or otherwise. They keep us hooked based on certain convictions,” the bench said. “It is the fourth pillar of our democracy and it should be strengthened,” the bench said.

The court advised the central government should not take an adversarial stand but assist the court and file a comprehensive response on regulations that can be devised and tabled, keeping in line with the 2017 law commission report.

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