By Anjum Dhamija:
India, a sovereign socialist democratic republic, with a population of over 1 billion today, cherishes a history of independence gained 65 years ago. The architects of our current constitutional framework imbibed the spirit of freedom from every aspect of life in a free country. Among several fundamental rights, a rather powerful one is the right to expression i.e. freedom of speech. In a democratic country being run by representatives of the people, by the people and for the people, every citizen has a right to put forth his opinions, ideas, and grievances.
This is what I used to think till a few days ago. Then I came across Section 124A of Indian Penal Code which defines the Sedition Law. This law doesn’t poke its nose into every expression of yours; it simply puts a blot on the right to freedom of speech by considering it a criminal offence to express and also, propagate among others any kind of disaffection for the government. What a tight slap on the face of democracy!
This law came to India during the British rule and was a tool to keep everything under control for the welfare of British Empire. That makes sense because they were nowhere related to the people they were ruling. Had it not been for the strong expression and aggression of our freedom fighters, we might have been bearing the drudgery of colonialism even today. Just to remind, the voice was raised not against the people, but always against the ruling cohorts. Even after such a historical experience, the Indian Penal code validates the sedition law. It is not just another redundant law, but is in practice with full force. Just two years ago, Dr. Binayak Sen, the human rights activist was put to trial under Sedition law. It was a sheer display of loose ends of our Indian laws which can be easily misused to suppress the strong voices of our society.
Well, I think I might be going against our core framework, so I should keep myself politically correct. Yes, I am against the sedition law, because it endangers anyone who is trying to pick up the flaws in current state of affairs. The calmness which this law wants to maintain in our society has a very thin line relationship with the righteousness which every citizen wants to be proud of. So, why isn’t a clause added to stop the propagation of ill-feelings based on falsehood? That would be required to tame the groups which are trying to make use of ignorance of crowds but, at least let the truth prevail. However, validation of true and false is also necessary. We all need to think.