Telangana has the second-highest number of lawmakers in the country with declared cases of hate speech against them, as per an Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) study released on Wednesday.
State-wise, Uttar Pradesh accounts for 15 MPs/MLAs with declared cases of hate speech, while Telangana has 13. Karnataka and Maharashtra have five each, while Bihar has four and Andhra Pradesh has three, along with nine other states with two or one cases each.
According to reports, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) have six legislators each, who were booked for hate speech.
This includes Telangana Ministers KT Rama Rao and T Harish Rao, along with Nizamabad MP Kalvakuntla Kavitha. Asaduddin Owaisi and Akbaruddin Owaisi of the AIMIM also made it to the list.
Most of the cases on TRS leaders were foisted during the Telangana struggle for separate statehood, as the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh government was hostile to the movement.
Reports also stated that controversial BJP MLA T Raja Singh from Goshamahal, had the highest number of cases in the state with 18.
The ADR study said that of the total of 58 current MPs and MLAs with declared cases of hate speech against themselves across India, 27 are from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The study was carried out by ADR and National Election Watch (NEW) by analysing the self-sworn affidavits of all sitting MPs and MLAs, which were submitted prior to the last election they contested.
"Analysis reveals that many of our current MPs and MLAs, who are designated lawmakers have actually declared cases related to 'Hate Speech' against themselves," it said.
Though hate speech is not defined in any law in India, the term is used to mean expression which is abusive, intimidating or which incites violence, hatred or discrimination based on race, religion, region, language, caste, sexual orientation or personal convictions, it said.
"(As many as) 15 sitting Lok Sabha MPs have declared cases related to hate speech against themselves ... (of these) 10 sitting Lok Sabha MPs with declared cases related to hate speech are from the BJP," the report said.
And, among the 43 sitting MLAs with declared cases of hate speech, 17 are from the BJP, it said.
"By giving tickets to candidates who are charged with cases related to hate speech, political parties have been in a way abetting circumstances that lead to events such as communal riots and violence between different groups of people," ADR said.
The offenders among the MPs include two political party leaders, Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) and Badruddin Ajmal (AIUDF), and Union Minister Uma Bharti of the BJP.
"Internet is an important tool for disseminating information and opinions however, it also serves as a platform for disseminating unlawful speech. Political parties have been misusing the medium for unlawful statements," said the report.
ADR has supported some of the recommendations of the Law Commission Report including amending the model code of conduct to prohibit any kind of hate speech by a candidate or his agent to improve the prospect of the candidate or to hurt the rival candidate's chances.
It also suggested amendments to the Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code by adding new provisions on 'Prohibiting incitement to hatred'. ADR recommended that unlawful statements on online platforms should be monitored and if the person found guilty, they should be penalised.
"ADR believes that strict action must be taken against the candidates giving hate speech prior and during the elections, and against the elected legislators even after the elections, if found guilty of indulging in 'Hate Speech'," the report said.