National Laws on Blasphemy: India

As a home to numerous religious and ethnic groups, India has a number of laws against hate speech that fall under the “reasonable restrictions” to freedom of expression permitted in the Indian Constitution. Specifically, Sections 124A, 153A, 153B, 292, 293, and 295A of the Indian Penal Code prohibit any words or representations that insult any individual’s or group’s religious beliefs, or that are meant to incite enmity against a particular religion. The punishment for hate speech is a fine, imprisonment for up to three years, or both. Members of all of India’s faith groups can and do utilize anti-hate speech legislation when their religious sensibilities are hurt. Recent arrests include newspaper editors for articles criticizing the public nudity of certain Jain monks and arguing for the right to critique any religion, the latter of which angered Muslims; unprosecuted complaints have been filed by Buddhists against an actress who posed nude against a Buddha statue, and by Hindus against an athlete who ate beef during a cricket match.