[Editorial Analysis] Silly point

Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: Sedition law
Mains level: Constitutional features

Context:

• People who allegedly celebrated the victory of Pakistan against India in a T20 cricket World Cup match on October 24 are facing the brunt of the state.

For example:

• In Rajasthan: a young schoolteacher has been terminated by a private school and the police have charged her under IPC Section 153B for ‘imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration’.

• In Jammu and Kashmir: the police have registered two cases against unknown persons under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and other sections.

• In Uttar Pradesh: three students from JAMMU AND KASHMIR have been charged under IPC Sections 153A (promoting enmity between groups), 505 (creating or publishing content to promote enmity) and, later, Section 124A, sedition.

Critiques on the application of Sedition act:

• People of Indian origin live around the world, with split loyalties.

• There are U.S. citizens who chant victory for India at gatherings in their home countries addressed by the Indian Prime Minister, and there are British and Australian citizens who boo their own country in favour of India during sporting events.

• Sports teams around the world have members of foreign origin.

About Sedition:

• Section 124A criminalizes seditious acts, speech or writings: Any statement that caused “disaffection”, namely exciting in others certain bad feelings towards government, even though there was no element of incitement to violence or rebellion.

Views from various Judgements:

• 1962: Kedar nath vs State of Bihar: Supeme court held that application of Section 124A to acts involving intention or tendency to create disorder, or disturbance of law and order, or incitement to violence. Therefore, incitement to violence is the essential ingredient of the offence of sedition.

• 1995: Balwant Singh V/s State of Punjab: If the Slogans against the nation did not evoke any response from any other person (of Sikh community) or reaction from the people of other communities, raising such casual slogans a couple of times without any other act whatsoever, did not justify prosecution for sedition and Section 124-A could not be invoked.

• 2003: Nazir Khan V/s State of Delhi: “It is fundamental right of every citizen to have his own political theories and ideas and to propagate them and work for their establishment so long as he does not seek to do so by force and violence or contravene any provision of law, and that the mere use of words ‘fight’ and ‘war’ in their pledge did not necessarily mean that the society planned to achieve its object by force and violence.”

• Shreya Singal vs UOI 2015: mere discussion and advocacy however unpopular it may be, is a genuine exercise of freedom of speech and expression until it reaches the level of incitement that Article 19 (2) can be invoked.
• Auradha Bhasin vs UOI case 2020: expounded Doctrine of Proportionality while invoking Sec 144 of CrPC.

Argument Against such restrictions:

• Against democratic norms: In a democracy, people have the inalienable right to change the government they do not like. People will display disaffection towards a government which has failed them. The law of sedition which penalizes them for hating a government does not serve them.

• Constitutional violation: It violates Article 19(1)(a). Under article 19(2) Sedition as a reasonable restriction was not adopted by the constituent assembly, as it was mentioned in the draft. It clearly shows that the Constitution makers did not consider sedition as a reasonable restriction.

• Suppressing criticism: It can be misused to gag press or suppress the criticism of the government.

• Draconian nature of law: It is Non-bailable and non-cognizible.

• Moral question: Indians were against this act in colonial era as it was used to jail our freedom fighters. So, it should have been automatically stuck down after independence.

• Judgments don’t prevent misuse: the Supreme court has held that without incitement to violence or rebellion there is no sedition. However, this has not closed the door on misuse of this law.

• toxic hyper¬nationalism: it is very bad for any country.

• Freedom of expression: it curb people’s expression.

Way forward:

• Just celebrating the victory for Muslim team by the muslim or either by any community does not mean that they are not nationals or anti-national.

• We should not follow hyper-nationalism. India is a diverse country and it is known for it. instead of strict action we should make people more tolerant.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR), consider the following statements:

1. It has been established at the Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Chennai.

2. The Information Fusion Centre will serve countries that have White Shipping Information Exchange agreements with India.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: B

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