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Accredited in 'A++' grade with a score 3.60 on a four point scale by NAAC


04/01/2014 to 05/01/2014

The seminar, organised in association with the British Deputy High Commission, Hyderabad, focused on emerging debates on free speech, marginalisation and radicalisation in the context of the internet through conversations between people who have worked on various aspects of this issue, including leading jurists, lawyers, bloggers and activists who have embraced new technologies and students.

The Chief Guest for the inaugural session was Hon’ble Justice Mr. Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta, Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court and Chancellor of NALSAR University of Law. Hon’ble Dr. Justice S Muralidhar, Judge, Delhi High Court, the keynote speaker of the seminar, highlighted the inadequacy of the present legal system in tackling issues of online harassment and hate speech. He pointed out that different communities have differential access to discursive spaces, and while opposing criminalization, supported civil and other alternative remedies to safeguard the right of marginalised communities to effectively exercise their freedom of speech. He also emphasized the rights of individuals to privacy and “to disappear” from the virtual realm, while cautioning the audience about the permanence of electronic data and the ability of third parties to retrieve and view any information or harmful content, including that which has been deleted, on the internet. Guest of Honour, Hon’ble Justice Madan B Lokur, Judge, Supreme Court of India, discussed intolerance as an independent form of violence and drew attention to the transposing of real world caste based hatred to online platforms and the pressing need to find solutions to prevent the same. Mr Andrew McAllister, British Deputy High Commissioner, Hyderabad, reminded all of the need to balance principle with practicality in creating an inclusive environment on the internet.

The two days saw six panel discussions featuring prominent speakers such as Teesta Setalvad, Geeta Seshu, Anja Kovacs, Apar Gupta, Anil Maheshwari, Chinmayi Arun, Subi Chaturvedi, Richa Kaul Padte and Amlan Mohanty. Teesta Setalvad pointed out the need to question sources of information on the internet to find ways to discern between that which is credible and that which is not. Anja Kovacs, Director, Internet Democracy Project, urged the gathering to be clear about what sort of speech should be considered as ‘hate speech’ and proposed the use of thresholds of unacceptability rather than strict definitions in criminal law. She also stressed on the importance of engagement and non-law interventions in combating hate. Apar Gupta drew attention to the (mis)use of laws against hate speech to censor rather than protect dissenting voices, minorities and marginalised communities.

The seminar saw engagement on a number of contentious issues including whether the internet is a democratic space, the experience of marginalised communities on social media and responses to the same, whether self-regulation is a sustainable model to preserve freedoms online and yet control harmful speech, and whether our present laws are adequate to deal with the phenomenon of hate speech on social media. Hon’ble Justice R. V. Raveendran, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India and Chairperson, News and Broadcasting Standards Authority, India, presided over the valedictory ceremony