Maharashtra leads in free speech violations

BY NANDITA JHA| IN Special Reports | 21/01/2016
Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are the states which registered the most free speech related cases in 2015.


A state-wise analysis of categories of free speech related offences or incidents in our annual free speech report for 2015 shows that the state of Maharashtra had the highest number of incidents, totaling 33. It was followed by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Maharashtra  recorded the killing of rationalist Govind Pansare,  14 cases of censorship (the highest number in the country), 10 of defamation, besides incidents of attacks, threats and hate speech. The  cases of censorship fell into the following broad categories: ---those by the police, legislature, and citizens groups that took offence.  The defamation cases in this state last year included three filed  by two stock exchanges, and others file by various organisations including the police. Thanks to ruling party’s alliance members  it also recorded 2 cases of hate speech, whereas most states recorded one or none. 

Tamil Nadu accounted for  11 out of 48 defamation cases in the country. Nine of these  were filed by the state government’s city public prosecutor on behalf of CM Jayalalitha or her ministers. Six of these were against publications. Not only in defamation, in censorship also Tamil Nadu comes second in the number of incidents of different kinds.Of the seven cases of restrictions imposed on films, TV shows or books the majority were by Hindutva or right wing groups, one by a Dait group.  That includes Bhartiya Janata Party hardliners warning actor  Rajinikanth against accepting an offer to do a film on Tipu Sultan.

Karnataka records the highest the number of the threats to the journalists and intellectuals. Out of a  total  of 27 threats, 16 occurred in this state. The number of threats increased sharply when the writers community started protesting against the killing of the rationalist M.M Kalburgi by right-wing outfits. Eleven rationalists and academics   were threatened leading them to withdraw their campaign for a probe into his killing.

The state which is a graveyard for journalists is Uttar Pradesh which recorded four deaths and six attacks. Unless investigations are completed it is not known how many can put down to being the  consequence of  the victims' journalistic activity. 

These are conservative figures based on reported cases. The National Crime Research Bureau does  not collect figures under these heads. Where it has begun reporting figures as in attacks on journalists (from 2014), the figures tend to be much higher.

The table below lists the eleven  states which recorded the highest number of free speech violations.

Category Wise:  top two violators 


1) Tamil Nadu =11
2) Maharashtra=10


Number of cases
1) Gujarat
2) Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu all recorded 2 cases
Number of people involved
1)Madhya Pradesh=9 people
2) Punjab= 8 people

Hate  speech

1) Maharashtra=2
2) Delhi, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka = 1 each

Online and Mobile

1) Gujarat = 6
2) Jammu and Kashmir=4

Deaths of Journalists

1) Uttar Pradesh =4
2) Bihar =2, Madhya Pradesh=2

Death of Rationalist

Karnataka and Maharashtra=1 each



1)Uttar Pradesh= 6
2) Assam= 5



1) Karnataka =16
2) Delhi =4



1) Maharashtra =14
2) Delhi =7, Tamil Nadu=7




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