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

News Snippets

  • Flipkart assures employees that there will be no job or salary cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Although it was obvious, but the government still clarifies that there is no need to switch off appliances and only lights need to be switched off on April 5 at 9pm after confusion in the minds of some people
  • PM Modi and President Trump decide "to deploy full strength of (Indo-US) partnership" to fight against COVID-19
  • 17 states have reported 1023 cases of coronavirus linked to the Tablighi Jamaat, which translates to 30% of all positive cases in India
  • The government says people should not use alcohol-based hand sanitizers before lighting diyas or candles on April 5
  • The railways say there is no certainty yet when services will resume after the lockdown and a final decision will be taken in the next few days
  • As coronavirus cases multiply in Assam, six north-east states seal their borders with the state
  • Power System Operation Corporation Ltd. (POCOSO) putting all systems and protocols in place at war-footing to ensure there is no grid failure due to reduction in demand on April 5 at 9 pm
  • Power ministry scotches rumours that the power grid might fail due to the 9-minute blackout called by PM Modi on Sunday, April 5
  • Centre asks people to wear home-made masks if it is absolutely essential for them to step out of homes
  • Centre asks states to allow licensed street vendors to sell essential items
  • 8000 samples were tested across India on April 2, but the government said that testing will be need-based and will not be used as a confidence-boosting measure
  • Air India operating special flights to fly passengers stuck in India since the lockdown
  • For the first time in history, Darjeeling loses first flush tea due to suspension of garden work for Covid-19 outbreak
  • Supreme Court asks journalists to be responsible and publish only the official version of news after it was brought to its notice that migrant exodus started after the 'fake' news that the lockdown will be extended to three months
Total count stands ar 3082 as India records 16 Covid-19 deaths, the highest in a single day
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.