oppn parties Booking Celebrities For Sedition: Where Will This Lead To?

News Snippets

  • The government decides to decriminalize more than two-thirds of penal sections in the Companies Act
  • Muslim groups tell the Supreme Court that they want the Babri Masjid to be restored
  • Muslim groups claim that while they were asked questions in court, Hindus were not questioned
  • Postpaid mobile services restored in Jammu & Kashmir from today, but still no internet
  • Abhijit Banerjee, an Indian-American currently a professor at MIT, wins the 2019 Noble prize in economics jointly with two others
  • Industrial output slumps in August as the IIP shrinks by 1.1%
  • Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping watch a cultural show at the Shore Temple in Mamallapuram
  • J&K administration lifts the ban on entry of tourists in the Valley, but it remains doubtful how many will visit without being able to use mobile phones and internet
  • After Sena asks members to support the BJP candidate in Kalyan, 26 party corporators and 300 members resign setting off a crisis
  • The Centre sets up a 12-member committee to suggest systemic changes in the GST structure to improve compliance and collection, prevent misuse and evasion and rationalize rates and slabs
  • In line with the RBI outlook on the Indian economy, rating firm Moody's also downgrades growth forecast from 6.8% to 5.8% this year, saying the economy is experiencing a pronounced slowdown
  • HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh says the financial system in India does not offer foolproof security for misuse of the savings of the common man
  • Shivinder Singh and Malvinder Singh, promoters of Ranbaxy and Fortis, arrested for their role in Religare Finvest scam
  • Supreme Court says marriage can be dissolved if it has broken down irretrievably
  • DA of Central government staff hiked by 5% to 17%
Sourav Ganguly is the new president of BCCI, says conflict of interest is a big concern
oppn parties
Booking Celebrities For Sedition: Where Will This Lead To?

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.

Does writing an open letter to the Prime Minister of the country highlighting certain unpunished criminal acts amount to sedition? Yes, if an FIR lodged in Bhagalpur in Bihar is to be believed. The police in Bhagalpur has registered an FIR against 49 celebrities, including filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan and historian Ram Chandra Guha, among others, for writing an open letter to PM Modi in July this year where they regretted the fact that mobs were lynching people over religion and food habits and these acts were going unpunished.

When things happen in a nation, there will be hundreds of different views. Some people will support the acts, either passively or actively while others will remain neutral. But there will always be a minority (or even a majority) that will not support the acts and will protest against them, again either through words or by even actively resisting the miscreants. But none of the above can be truly called sedition, which is defined as "conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of the state". But as the ruling dispensation becomes more allergic to the dissenting view, the definition of sedition will become dangerously narrow.

But can the open letter that was written to the Prime Minister count as conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of the state? It was an earnest attempt by thinking Indians to put across their views to the highest authority in the government about something that was happening with alarming regularity in the country which they did not like. They just pointed out that such barbaric acts tarnished the nation’s image and the perpetrators should be punished and the Prime Minister should speak out against such acts. It was an appeal from the heart and there was no sedition involved.

If such dissenting view and appeal for sanity are to be considered sedition then no civil dialogue is possible. The letter did not tell the Prime Minister that if he did not act or if the administration did not act the writers would take the law in their hands and stop the miscreants. It asked the Prime Minister to use his office to put a stop to the heinous crime. There is nothing wrong with that and the signatories did not break any law. The Bihar police should immediately withdraw the FIR and desist from registering such FIRs before understanding the matter.