Sedition: the attempt “to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India”, a crime under Section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code, a provision introduced by the British colonial government in 1860.
The only revisions to this colonial legal provision since its passing have been over the years, to remove anachronistic terms like “Her Majesty”, “the Crown Representative”, “British India”, “British Burma” and “Transportation for life or any shorter term”.
But it seems “Disaffection towards the government”, the archaic usage notwithstanding, is a timeless crime. Section 124A, therefore, these few cosmetic changes apart, has remained unchanged for the last 150 years.
Continue reading Sedition: ‘The highest duty of a citizen’
This is a guest post by BARUN DAS GUPTA
The detractors of Arundhati Roy have found a fresh casus belli against her for her recent speech (Oct. 21) in New Delhi, on Kashmir. The participants in the polemics include such intellectuals as Swapan Dasgupta, a journalist and a BJP leader. The burden of their criticism is that Arundhati should be arrested for sedition because by her speeches she has caused hatred and disaffection towards the Government and actually championed the secession of a part of India, that is, Jammu and Kashmir.
Let us examine this matter of “creating hatred and disaffection” towards the Government, not from the legal point of view but from the political point of view. Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code says: “Whoever brings or attempts to bring in hatred, contempt or excites disaffection towards the Government shall be punished ……” Before proceeding further, let us note that the concerned section speaks of “disaffection towards the Government”, without specifying whether by “Government” the Central Government is meant or the State Governments. Since there is no explanation, it may be inferred that “Government” means both Central and State Governments. Continue reading Sedition provision gags free speech: Barun Das Gupta
I was present and speaking a few hours ago at a meeting titled ‘Azadi: The Only Way’ on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, organized by the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners at the Little Theatre Group in Delhi yesterday (21st October). I was not present from the beginning of the meeting as I was traveling from another city, but can vouch for what occurred from around 4:30 pm till the time that the meeting wound up, well after 8:00 pm in the evening.
The meeting took place in the packed to capacity auditorium of the Little Theatre Group on Copernicus Marg at the heart of New Delhi. Several speakers, including the poet Varavara Rao, Prof. Mihir Bhattacharya, Sujato Bhadra, Gursharan Singh, Mr. Shivnandan (?) an activist from Jammu, Professor G.N.Saibaba, Professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain – Professor of Law, Srinagar University, the journalist Najeeb Mubaraki, Dr. N. Venuh of the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights, the writer Arundhati Roy and myself spoke at the meeting. (I may be missing out some names, for which I apologize, but I was not present for a part of the meeting, at the very beginning) The climax of the meeting was a very substantive and significant speech by Syed Ali Shah Geelani of the Hurriyat Conference (G), which spelt out the vision of liberation (Azaadi) and Justice that Syed Ali Shah Geelani held out before the assembled public, of which I will write in detail later in this text.
Continue reading Azadi: The Only Way – Report from a Turbulent Few Hours in Delhi