ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Siddharth NarrainSubscribe to Siddharth Narrain

Dangerous Speech in Real Time: Social Media, Policing, and Communal Violence

The article examines how a set of key actors—the police, civil society and social media platforms responded to a series of violent incidents in Pune in 2014 that resulted in the death of Mohsin Sheikh. The hate speech by the Hindu Rashtra Sena leaders; the murder of Sheikh; violence and arson against Muslims; the circulation of morphed images; the actions of the police and civil society groups, were all part of an ecosystem of events that occurred at the time. What is new here, when compared to earlier incidents of communal violence is the technology being used—social media through internet enabled mobile phones. This in turn raises a number of legal and technological questions that need to be investigated further.

Hate Speech, Hurt Sentiment, and the (Im)Possibility of Free Speech

This paper examines the evolution of hate speech law through chronological developments. Beginning during the Constitutional Assembly debates, it examines how hate speech law has been interpreted by courts and legislative developments in the six decades post independence. Through this exercise, the author argues that the courts have interpreted the law through a pragmatic lens, often eschewing doctrine for practical reasons. If the judiciary's approach to hate speech law has been through the lens of pragmatism, what does this mean for legal reform, and for framing civil society responses to the existing legal framework around hate speech? Is it possible to ensure a more speech expansive framework while working within the limits of existing constitutional jurisprudence? Do we have to move beyond existing jurisprudence to encourage and protect fearless speech?

Struggling for Reason

The judgment of India's highest court has re-established discrimination based on sexual orientation. A close reading of the judgment upholding Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code indicates that the Supreme Court misread the Constitution and legal precedent. More worryingly, it failed to uphold the fundamental rights of Indian citizens.

'Disaffection' and the Law: The Chilling Effect of Sedition Laws in India

What place does a colonial legacy which, in its logic, believes that people are bound to feel affection for the state, and should not show any enmity, contempt, hatred or hostility towards the government established by law, have in a modern democratic state like India? This question lies at the heart of this essay, which examines how these laws impact the ability of citizens to freely express themselves and limit the ability to constructively criticise or express dissent against governments.

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