An expert committee, set up by the Union Home Ministry to suggest ways to tackle online hate speech, has recommended appointing cybercrime coordinators in all states and establishing cybercrime cells in each district, official sources said. The committee headed by ex-Lok Sabha secretary general T K Viswanathan has submitted its report and it’s being examined, a ministry spokesperson said. It has suggested replacing some clauses of the IT Act and amending some sections of the IPC like 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 505A (false and mischievous reports intended to upset public tranquility), official sources said.
The Viswanathan committee has recommended appointment of cybercrime coordinators in every state as well as setting up of cybercrime cells in each district, they said.
They will deal with those fomenting trouble or spreading hate against anybody on the grounds of religion, race, caste or community, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, place of birth or residence, language, disability, or tribe through any means of communication, the sources said.
The punishment under the amended clause dealing with prohibiting incitement to hatred has been recommended to be two years imprisonment or a fine of Rs 5,000 or both.
The committee has suggested that offences under the amended Section 505A be punishable with imprisonment of up to one year or fine or Rs 5,000 or both.
The amended Section would also deal with instances of anybody “causing fear, alarm or provocation of violence” on grounds of religion, etc.
The committee suggested that the state cybercrime coordinator should be an officer not below the rank of Inspector General of Police.
The district cybercrime cell should be headed by an officer not below the rank of sub-inspector of police, it suggested, sources said.