Tag Archives: Freedom of Speech and Expression

Conversations on Sedition: Ritanjan Das and Abhijit Sengupta

The weeks following the February 9th incident within the JNU campus have been nothing but eventful in India’s social and political discourse. At least, this is something most of us will agree on, no matter which side of this increasingly impermeable “fence” we sit on.  There have been arguments, counter arguments thrown from each side to the other, names have been dug up and hurled across, evidence in favour of what purportedly happened or did not happen have been put up by each side for the other to see. Videos have been made, unmade; cartoons have been drawn, redrawn; political figures have been idolised, lampooned; students have been demonized and idolized; dangers of the increasing menace of nationalism and anti-nationalism have been stuffed down one’s throat through the so called idiot box or the smart net.

In the midst of this deluge of opinions and ideas, information and misinformation, the question that some have raised is, are both sides losing the plot a bit? What exactly are we discussing or debating so vociferously? Are we really listening to the other sides’ arguments, or are we just hearing a few words we want to hear and voicing our own opinions in pre-designed responses? These are some of issues we are highlighting in this piece, hopefully in a slightly different format than what we are used to elsewhere.

What follows is a conversation between two intelligent people from opposite sides of the fence. The conversation is based on some real ones, which the authors of this piece had actually engaged in with different individuals over the last few weeks. We have attempted to distil the central ideas of both sides and present it to the readers. We cannot and have not included every aspect of the ideas and opinions of both sides, and we will not include the abuse. But what we have attempted to capture, is a reasoned and rational attempt at understanding the real problem(s), as understood by each side. Continue reading Conversations on Sedition: Ritanjan Das and Abhijit Sengupta

#NoDissentNoCountry #StandWithJNU

Williams College Stands with JNU!


Kajri Jain, University of Toronto


Aarti Sethi, (JNU 2009), Columbia University

A complete Hindi transcript and video of Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech is available here.

A complete English translation may be accessed here.

Rohith Vemula’s last note may be accessed here.

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa! : To A Student from CDS

Dear Student from CDS who pasted the posters criticising  our collective effort to stand with JNU

I write in response to the views that you expressed on those posters. First of all, let me tell you how much I’d have appreciated if you expressed those views openly right from the beginning, so that we could have had a proper debate. I do wish we stopped scribbling comments on each others’ posters – this is an open campus, and surely, we don’t practice the Sangh Parivar’s intolerance of a contrary opinion. No one, I assure you, will harm you in any way, and I am sure all my fellow teachers, students, and non-teaching staff will join me in assuring you thus.

Continue reading Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa! : To A Student from CDS





All India Lawyers Union (AILU), Rajasthan State Unit, strongly condemn the recent incident where individuals in uniform of Advocates misbehaved and assaulted Mr. Kanhaiya Kumar, the president of JNU Students Union, JNU faculties, Media persons on 15.2.2016 when Mr. Kanhaiya Kumar was produced in court before the magistrate is very serious issue and it became vigorous when the incident was repeated after two days, on 17.2.2016 despite of the actions given byHon’ble Supreme Court.

Further the AILU is of the view that the Jawahar Lal Nehru University is one of the institutions in the world where healthy atmosphere is developed over a time to discuss over the national and international issues. The students as well as the faculty members thereof is of the caliber to suggest a visionary and logical culmination, which not only important for individual but also for the nation and humanity as whole. Furthermore, University is a place where new ideas are developed, questions are asked and policies are praised or criticized. If any unwarranted incident is happened in the campus of the university, certainly an action has to be initiated against the responsible individual and for such action the university administration is having sufficient measures to act upon and no police action inside the campus was required at all. If the university authorities failed to take action or has shown its inability to restrict such activity, only then the police force may be used.

As such the police action in the university campus was absolutely unwarranted, unjustified and abuse of power by the state machinery.

Arrest of Mr. Kanhaiya Kumar and other students and treating them like hardcore criminals/terrorists, in the name of sedation without any substantial evidence, is not expected in a civilized society. The crime of sedation was inserted in IPC by the British rule in order to supress anyone who used to speak against the colonial rule. This term ‘sedation’ is obsolete and has no place in a democratic system like ours, especially in the educational institutions, having international reputation. Framing students in the name of sedation is clearly an attack on the fundamental rights, that is, of speech and expression.

Intentional avoidance of the Hon’ble Supreme Court instructions is apparently an act of contempt of court for which stern action has to be taken. AILU strongly suggests to take following actions against the responsible :

(i) Criminal case has to be registered against the advocates or the persons in the advocates’ uniform indulged in assaulting within the court premises;

(ii) Separate proceeding of criminal contempt is to be started against the persons involved in assaulting despite instructions of Supreme Court;

(iii) The police personals deployed at the court campus, in front of whom the act of assault was occurred has to be suspended henceforth and inquiry has to be initiated against them;

(iv) Mr. Om Prakash Sharma, the sitting MLA, who was apparently involved in the assaulting and to instigate others to involve in assaulting, his membership of Legislative Assembly is to be seized, proceeding of criminal contempt is to be initiated against him;

(v) The courts are the place where people come with the deep faith to get justice but such type of incidents not only deprive the people to avail justice but also diminish the belief in rule of law, and therefore, stern action has to be initiated against each and every responsible person whomsoever he is;

(vi) Code of conduct for advocates has to be reviewed and it may be inserted that any advocate, who involves in such incidents occured on 15.2.2016 and 17.02.2016, shall be restricted to appear in court as well as seize their auth of advocacy;

(vii) The magistrate, before whom the repeated disruption of court proceeding was occurred but no action against the responsible advocates/persons was taken, no FIR was lodged, stern action is required to be initiated against him.

The AILU condemn both the incidents, i.e. abuse of power by the police administration in the JNU campus and omission to prevent the assault on the students faculties and media persons in the court room /campus of Patiala House court. Our organization also demands for immediate release of Kanhaiya Kumar, president of JNUSU, so that normalcy can be restored.

(Dr. Vikram Singh Nain)

General Sectretary

General Secretary: Dr. Vikram Singh Nain Advocate Mobile No: +91 9414069959 Office: 0141-2810959 E-mail: nain_vs@yahoo.co.in

President: Sanjay Tyagi Advocate Mobile No.+91 9414048493 +91 9314013492

8, Nagaur Nagar, Nr. Kisaan Dharam Kanta Gopalpura Bye-pass Road, Jaipur-302019

STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY WITH STUDENT ACTIVISTS IN INDIA: University of Pennsylvania & Philadelphia South Asian Collective

We, activists and academics in the Pennsylvania region, strongly condemn the attack on academic freedom at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. The arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar, the President of the JNU Student’s Union, on charges of sedition has brought to light the intervention of the Union Government in the internal matters of the university. The repeated interference by police personnel at the behest of Vice Chancellors on university campuses is a draconian move. The charges against students were brought after an event organized by a section of students on campus premises to discuss the judicial execution of Afzal Guru. The JNU Students’ Union was subsequently held responsible for the “anti-national” slogans that were chanted by a group of students. We condemn these trumped-up and unconstitutional charges and stand in solidarity with the efforts to repeal capital punishment in India.

The events unfolding at JNU reveal disturbing similarities with instances of government repression on other campuses. We remember, with distress, the actions of the University of Hyderabad (UoH) administration in cahoots with the Central Government, actions that led to the death of a promising Ambedkarite student-activist, Rohith Vemula. The protests that arose indicted the discriminatory atmosphere prevailing in our universities as tantamount to the denial of the fundamental right to education to socially marginalized groups. Further, the murder of social thinkers like Govind Pansare and M.M. Kalburgi by hyper-nationalist elements under the tacit encouragement of the policies of the Central Government has shocked all advocates of free speech in India.

The charges of sedition against students participating in democratic discussion of public events is highly objectionable. The stifling of voices through intimidation and muscle power does not bode well for educational institutions.

Debate and dissent are integral parts of a strong democracy. Universities are critical public spaces that support these democratic practices to realize the values of social justice enshrined in the ideals of the constitution. International campuses like JNU, FTII and UoH bring together diverse group of students in the spirit of self-reflexive and deep intellectual engagement to ask fundamental questions of their social realities. An attack on these institutions is an attack on this precious pedagogical space. Student movements in India in alliance with other social movements in the country have historically been a resilient and sensitive force. The BJP government’s efforts to undermine them is nothing but an assault on Indian democracy. The government has failed to protect the rights of student bodies, and the highhandedness of the police highlights the insecurities of the present government.

In the United States during a presidential election year, we watch increasingly bigoted views against blacks, Muslims, and immigrants gaining ground. These events cannot be seen in isolation and we stand at the intersection of socio-political movements in the US and South Asia.

We stand in solidarity with students and faculty of JNU and demand the immediate release of the detained students. We appeal to all advocates for academic freedom in India and abroad to stand united against this state atrocity.

  1. Anannya Bohidar, Graduate Student, South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania
  2. Ammel Sharon, Graduate Student, South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania
  3. Meghna Chandra, Philadelphia South Asian Collective
  4. Ania Loomba, English, University of Pennsylvania
  5. Projit Mukharji, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania
  6. Najnin Islam, Graduate Student, English, University of Pennsylvania

Continue reading STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY WITH STUDENT ACTIVISTS IN INDIA: University of Pennsylvania & Philadelphia South Asian Collective

Letter of solidarity with JNU: Students, Staff and Faculty, Ashoka University

We, the undersigned—who study and work at Ashoka University, as well as the alumni of the Young India Fellowship, in our private capacity—write to voice our solidarity with the students and faculty at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Recent events at JNU, including the arrest of the JNUSU President over the charge of sedition, as well as other disproportionate measures, amount to a deeply troubling attack on academic and cultural freedom. We strongly condemn the display of brute force by the police, who were given free entry to the campus, including hostels, to question, detain and arrest students and faculty members. We protest the lack of police protection to those students and faculty, and condemn the use of State force against democratic expressions of dissent.

As proponents of liberal education, we believe that societies can only grow when they foster intellectual engagement with fundamental social questions and contemporary political issues through non-violent debate and argumentation. University campuses are, and should be, autonomous spaces where people can peacefully express as well as challenge dissent and opinions. However, the recent spate of events involving many university campuses across the country has posed a serious threat to the sanctity of such spaces as well as the democratic right to dissent and freedom of speech and expression. This includes the turn of events that led to Rohith Vemula’s death at the University of Hyderabad, the withholding of grants by the Ministry of Human Resource Development to Panjab University, and several instances of violent disruption of the screening of the film Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai in campuses across the country.

We condemn the State-backed misuse of the charge of sedition, a colonial era provision in the Indian Penal Code, against the JNUSU President, Kanhaiya Kumar. In the documented absence of any allegedly ‘anti-national’ actions or rhetoric on his part, we see the charge as an attempt to stifle dissent from the dominant order and silence critique of the State. We strongly believe that the provision against sedition, which was repealed in the United Kingdom itself in 2009, has no place in modern democracy. Most immediately, we strongly disapprove of the action of certain lawyers and a Member of the Legislative Assembly who physically attacked JNU students and faculty members as well as journalists outside the Patiala Court House premises on 15th February, 2016.

We fear that the continued State inaction against such instances of violence will foster an environment in which the label “anti-national” or “traitor” can be imposed on every voice of dissent.

We urge that:

the JNU campus be restored to normalcy and the police be withdrawn from all parts of the campus.

the JNUSU President, Kanhaiya Kumar be released from police custody immediately and all charges be dropped against him.

such unconstitutional actions be denounced.

we be allowed to nurture our universities as tolerant, democratic spaces where dissent and disagreement is respected, discussions are nurtured, and critical thinkers are born.


Ajit Mishra

Bhaskar Dutta

Malvika Maheshwari

Alex Watson

Debarati Roy

Mandakini Dubey

Anisha Sharma

Durba Chattaraj

Maya Saran

Anunaya Chaubey

Gilles Verniers

Nayanjot Lahiri

Anuradha Saha

Gwendolyn Kelly

Rajendran Narayanan

Aparajita Dasgupta

Jonathan Gil Harris

Ratna Menon

Aparna vaidik

Kranti Saran

Ravindran Sriramachandran

Arunava Sinha

Kunal Joshi

Saikat Majumdar

Aruni Kashyap

M A Ahmad Khan

Supriya Nayak

Pulapre Balakrishnan

Madhavi Menon

Vaiju naravane

Bharat Ramaswami

Malabika Sarkar

Vishes Kothari


Adil Shah

Kanika Singh

Shiv D Sharma

Aniha Brar


Shreya Khedia

Anu Singh

Meena S. Wilson

Sudarshana Chanda

Anuja Kelkar

Mercia Prince

Suha Gangopadhyay

Charu Singh

Priyanka Kumar

Sukanya Banerjee

Chiranjit mahato

Sarah Afraz

Sushmita Nath

Dr Maaz Bin Bilal

Saumya Varma

Swarnim Khare

Harshita Tripathi

Saurav Goswami

Tanita Abraham

Ishan de Souza

Sayan Chaudhuri


Sushmita Samaddar

Surya Raman

Sandeep Saraswal

Apoorva Gupta

Aditya Sarin

Chandan Sharma


Aafaque R Khan

Kaavya Gupta

Rishi Iyengar


Kande Sruthi Niveditha

Ritesh Agarwal

Akshay Barik

Kaustubh Khare

Rohini Singh

Ananta Seth

Maansi Verma

Rupali Kapoor

Antony Arul Valan

Malini Bose

Sai Krishna Kumaraswamy

Anushka Siddiqui

Mayank Sharma

Sakshi Ghai

Ashish Kumar

Mrudula Nujella

Shahzaib Ahmed


Neil Maheshwari

Shaleen Wadhwana

Avni Ahuja

Neelakshi Tewari

Shashank Mittal

Chaarvi Badani

Nikita Saxena

Shivangi Pareek

Danish Ahmad Mir

Nina Sud

Shrestha Mullick

Debanshu Roy

Nipun Arora

Shweta Subbaraman

Deepika Ghosh


Simeen Kaleem

Devleena Chatterji

Pavithra Srinivasan

Simranpreet Oberoi

Dhaneesh Jameson

Poornima Sardana

Sonal Jain

Dhwani Sabesh

Pragya Mukherjee

Subhodeep Jash

Hardika Dayalani

Prama Neeraja

Tanuj Bhojwani

Harsh Mani Tripathi

Rahul Sreekumar

Taysir Moonim

Harsh Snehanshu

Rajat Nayyar

Vaishnavi Viraj

Himanshu Ranjan

Ratul Chowdhury

Venkat Prasath

Jahanara Rabia Raza

Rimjhim Roy

Vishal Khatri

#NoDissentNoCOUNTRY #StandWithJNU

As the People’s Republic of Delhi dances to freedom’s song, people from around the world liberate banned speech. Bol Ke Labh Azad Hain Tere!

Divya Cherian, (JNU 2008) Rutgers University


Dora Zhang and Damon Young, University of California, Berkeley


Greta LaFleur, Yale University

A full text of Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech and a video is available here:http://kafila.org/2016/02/15/jnusu-president-kanhaiya-kumars-speech-before-being-arrested/

A complete English Translation may be accessed here: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1160216/jsp/frontpage/story_69576.jsp#.VsMg17R97GL

#NoDissentNoCOUNTRY #StandwithJNU

Bol ke labh azad hain tere: Speak for your lips are yet free

Eleanor Newbigin, SOAS, University of London

A full Hindi transcript and video of Kanhaiya Kumar’s speech is available here:http://kafila.org/2016/02/15/jnusu-president-kanhaiya-kumars-speech-before-being-arrested/

An English translation can be accessed here: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1160216/jsp/frontpage/story_69576.jsp#.VsVc8HQrK8r

How to respond to a legal notice from The Times of India

Shamnad Basheer shows the way:

We strongly object to the vile language and the highly aggressive tone used in the notice. We can respond in kind, but we choose to be a bit more civil with you.

You choose to issue this highly malevolent letter, hoping to intimidate us into a meek apology. Unfortunately, while the meek may inherit the earth, they are bound to be shown no favour by corporate powerhouses such as your client.

So, let’s cut to the chase and explore your alleged grievances articulated rather flatulently in over seven pages of a highly intemperate legal notice.

Read the full story at Sans Serif.

Shamnad Basheer for PM!


Freedom of speech in India is for the rich and the powerful

While freedom of speech and expression in India is under attack from all sides, have you noticed how the rich and the powerful can say what they like without getting arrested, facing FIRs and courts, hiring lawyers and so on?

While an innocuous tweet or Facebook status update can land you in police lock-up on a Saturday night or Sunday morning 5 am, a Digvijaya Singh can say sexist crap against Rakhi Sawant and get away with it.

Here’s another example from Twitter recently. Lalit Modi of IPL infamy, who wants us to believe his coming to India and facing the law is a security threat to him, tweeted that the BJP’s  Arun Jaitley would lose his deposit if he contested the Lok Sabha seat from Jaipur. (Lalit Modi thinks he’s the Maharaja of Rajasthan.) In response to that, one Ankush Jain replied… Continue reading Freedom of speech in India is for the rich and the powerful

Free Naveen Soorinje

This is a public statement; names of signatories given at the end.

As editors and senior journalists representing a cross-section of the print, television and online media, we wish to bring to your notice a matter of serious professional concern for the journalist fraternity.

Naveen Soorinje, a district reporter with the Kannada channel Kasturi Newz 24, was arrested by the Karnataka police on 7 November 2012 for the role he played in covering the 28 July 2012 attack by Hindutva vigilantes on innocent boys and girls who were celebrating a birthday at a homestay in Mangalore. In the two months that Naveen Soorinje has been in judicial custody in Mangalore, his mental and physical health has deteriorated drastically. He was recently discharged from the jail ward of the district hospital after suffering a bout of chickenpox. Continue reading Free Naveen Soorinje

Many authors missing at Jaipur Lit Fest: Sajan Venniyoor

Guest post by SAJAN VENNIYOOR, our cultural correspondent

Threats from Hindu, Muslim and other cultural organizations may derail the Jaipur Literature Festival set to begin on Thursday, 24 January.

The BJP and RSS have threatened not to allow seven Pakistani authors to attend the event. “Looking at present Indo-Pak relations, it is unacceptable to allow Pakistani writers to be here as guests. We will make sure they are not allowed to enter Rajasthan. If they come, they will meet the fate of many others who have met similar fates,” said Suman Sharma, BJP state vice-president.

The Pakistani authors included in this blanket ban are British-Pakistani Nadeem Aslam, Canadian-Pakistanis MA Farooqi and Sharmeen Ubaid Chinoy and plain old garden variety Pakistanis Mohammed Hanif, Jamil Ahmad, Fahmida Riaz and Ameena Saiyid. Continue reading Many authors missing at Jaipur Lit Fest: Sajan Venniyoor

Social Media Regulation vs. Suppression of Freedom of Speech: Pranesh Prakash


This morning, there was a short report in the Mumbai Mirror about two girls having been arrested for comments one of them made, and the other ‘liked’, on Facebook about Bal Thackeray:

Police on Sunday arrested a 21-year-old girl for questioning the total shutdown in the city for Bal Thackeray’s funeral on her Facebook account. Another girl who ‘liked’ the comment was also arrested.

The duo were booked under Section 295 (a) of the IPC (for hurting religious sentiments) and Section 64 (a) of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Though the girl withdrew her comment and apologised, a mob of some 2,000 Shiv Sena workers attacked and ransacked her uncle’s orthopaedic clinic at Palghar.

“Her comment said people like Thackeray are born and die daily and one should not observe a bandh for that,” said PI Uttam Sonawane.

What provisions of law were used?

There’s a small mistake in Mumbai Mirror‘s reportage as there is no section “64(a)”1 in the Information Technology (IT) Act, nor a section “295(a)” in the Indian Penal Code (IPC). They must have meant section 295A of the IPC (“outraging religious feelings of any class”) and section 66A of the IT Act (“sending offensive messages through communication service, etc.”). The Wall Street Journal’s Shreya Shah has confirmed that the second provision was section 66A of the IT Act.

Section 295A of the IPC is cognizable and non-bailable, and hence the police have the powers to arrest a person accused of this without a warrant.2 Section 66A of the IT Act is cognizable and bailable. Some news sources claim that section 505(2) of the IPC (“Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes”) has also been invoked.

This is clearly a case of misapplication of s.295A of the IPC.3 This provision has been frivolously used numerous times in Maharashtra. Even the banning of James Laine’s book Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India happened under s.295A, and the ban was subsequently held to have been unlawful by both the Bombay High Court as well as the Supreme Court. Indeed, s.295A has not been applied in cases where it is more apparent, making this seem like a parody news report. Continue reading Social Media Regulation vs. Suppression of Freedom of Speech: Pranesh Prakash

Aseem Trivedi and the guardians of good taste

There’s a time for everything. When a cartoonist is being arrested for his cartoons, for cartoons that caused no harm, incited no violence, killed no people, then do you discuss his art or his incarceration? Continue reading Aseem Trivedi and the guardians of good taste

Quietly censors the nanny state: Mishi Choudhary



New Delhi’s Sanchar Bhawan, which houses the office of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology

The recent curbs on social networking websites in India demonstrate the unpredictability of the legal environment, both for businesses and the citizens. Whether its the Government of India’s (GoI) insistence on getting access to corporate emails and text messages sent via BlackBerry devices, or changing stances on “pre-screening” user generated content, the authorities seem to be doing a tap dance around legal issues. The implementation of rules seems surreptitious as they are bent conveniently in the name of “security”. Continue reading Quietly censors the nanny state: Mishi Choudhary

Why is the Indian media building a case for internet censorship rather than against it?

Hundreds of webpages now stand blocked in India, the government has openly been appealing to internet companies to pre- or post-screen content and remove what the government wants it to remove. One Google Transparency Report after another has been revealing how the number one target of the government is criticism of politicians and government. Just imagine what would the Indian media’s response to such censorship have been like had it been hundreds of books or articles we were talking about? Instead of asking Facebook to ‘pre-screen’ our posts, had Kapil Sibal been asking for someone to pre-screen articles in the newspapers, would it not be like the Emergency?

Okay, point taken. Let us not trivialise the Emergency, which entailed jailing of dissidents and forced sterilisation and so on. But still, there’s so much internet censorship in India now that it is surprising that instead of outrage you find the Indian media actually building the case for censorship. What about hate speech, they ask. What about the trolls, Why is there so much abuse on the internet? Continue reading Why is the Indian media building a case for internet censorship rather than against it?

“The more they censor the internet the bigger we become” – An interview of Anonymous India

In which I interview “Anonymous India” who have organised a massive protest against internet censorship across 11 Indian cities on 9 June.

Some say such attacks (hacking and defacement of Web sites) could be used by the political class to actually strengthen their argument in favour of control and regulation of the Internet. What do you say to that?

Anamikanon: People on the ground are vulnerable to people with a lot of power and no problems misusing it. Anonymous can’t be found to defame, threaten, suppress, stall…. wrong means? Ok. Worth it.

Netcak3: I say the more they censor the Internet, the bigger we become. We strive in users from across the world. Pro tip: Once an idea has been made, you cannot kill it.

Anamikanon: In my view, these are the means that can be safely used without risking life, limb, careers, reputations, family…

Gummy: Defacing is like posting a nill which is illegal and can be removed. Like people post their advertisement bill (poster) at the back of buses and other public places.

Anamikanon: Except we post it in inside their drawing rooms! [Read the full interview.]

Net Loss: Sajan Venniyoor


Image via dailygalaxy.com

Net: noun, verb.

1. a contrivance of strong thread or cord worked into an open, meshed fabric, for catching fish, birds, or  other animals
2. anything serving to catch or ensnare

The other day, in a Parliamentary debate on Internet Rules 2011, the leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha said something so absurd that for a moment I thought he had joined the government. “You can control print and electronic media, but not internet,” he said, only removing his foot from his mouth to add, “If internet had been in existence, Emergency would have been a fiasco.”

Actually, if the Emergency had been in existence, the Internet would have been a fiasco. Continue reading Net Loss: Sajan Venniyoor

India asks Google to remove 2 items every 3 days

Google’s just released fourth biannual Transparency Report says that between January and June 2011, India asked it to remove 358 different items from various Google-owned web services such as Orkut and YouTube. Google complied in 51% cases. The requests were made by various central and state government departments through 68 different requests. The fourth such report, it goes against communications minister Kapil Sibal’s claims that internet companies are not willing to “self-regulate”.

Worryingly, the report also confirms the allegations that what bothers government officials the most about the internet is not defamation or hate speech but government criticism. Continue reading India asks Google to remove 2 items every 3 days

Unpacking India’s Internet Censorship Debate

Recent debates on Internet censorship in India have focused to the allegedly free-for-all nature of the internet. Those of us who have argued against internet censorship have been somewhat misrepresented as arguing for absolute freedom whereby the reasonable restrictions laid down in Article 19 (A) of the Constitution of India don’t apply. Nothing could be farther than the truth.

It has been said that the internet can be used to incite violence, particularly inter-communal violence, and there needs to be a mechanism to prevent that. Communications minister Kapil Sibal wants internet giants to “self-regulate” for this reason, denying that he wants to censor political dissent on the internet. Following on the heels of his expression of such concern in December 2011, Mufti Aijaz Arshad Qasmi and journalist Vinay Rai filed cases against various internet companies for similar material that is religiously offensive.It needs to be pointed out, however, that the cases filed by Qasmi and Rai are under the Indian Penal Code and do not even invoke the Information Technology Act. So if the Indian Penal Code can be used against religiously offensive material why do we need any new mechanism to “regulate” or even “self-regulate” the internet? Continue reading Unpacking India’s Internet Censorship Debate