There has been a lot of stir in the media all round following the arrest of protester in JNU on sedition charges for organizing an event commemorating the death anniversary of Afzal Guru followed by anti national slogans. Let us have a legal perspective on the same.The bare text of section 124A reads as follows:
“Section 124A: Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards. 2[* * *] the Government established by law in 3[India], 4[* * *] shall be punished with 5[imprisonment for life], to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.
Explanation 1-The expression “disaffection” includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity.
Explanation 2-Comments expressing disapprobation of the measures of the attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.
Explanation 3-Comments expressing disapprobation of the administrative or other action of the Government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.
The text also reads that the offence is of Conizable, Non- Bailable, Non-Compoundable, nature which is triable by a Court of Sessions.”
So the offence being a cognizable offence, under section 154 and section 41 of CrPC the police are well within their rights to make arrest and follow the procedure prescribed by CrPC, this establishes that the arrests made in the following incident are in accordance to the provision of CrpC and due process of law is followed.
Secondly, the article states and I quote “……advocating revolution, or advocating even violent overthrow of the State, does not amount to sedition, unless there is incitement to violence, and more importantly, the incitement is to ‘imminent’ violence” which is grossly misinterpreting and selectively presenting parts of the Supreme Court Judgments .Section 124A of IPC makes it clear that whoever by verbally, orally, by signs or visual representation, of through written representation tries to bring hatred contempt, disaffection towards government of India can be charged for sedition. The article totally overlooks the conduct of the protestors which was nothing less than all of the above. As stated in the judgement of Raghubir Singh v. State of Bihar AIR 1987 SC 149,p 158 the offence may be committed by words, signs , visible representation or otherwise. The words’ or otherwise’ indicate the universality of the means by which the offence may be committed. Also distribution or circulation of seditious material will also constitute an offence.
As we know protestors were organizing a function to commemorate the death anniversary of Afzal Guru a branded terrorist and enemy of the state even by the Apex Court of India, and that to under the guise of a cultural event, and it was not the first time that they had organized such an event to ‘Honor their Hero, Afzal Guru’. If uttering slogans like ‘Tum jitney Afzal maroge, har ghar main Afzal paida hoga’ , ‘Kashmir ki Aazadi tak, Bharat ki barbadi tak, Jung chalegi , Jung Chalegi’ and making publication regarding the same to generate ‘awareness’( as they call it) is not inciting hatred and contempt towards India than I don’t know what is!! And as expected there are repercussions already in Kashmir as the bar association has suspended work for 3 days and has addressed Afzal Guru as Shaheed !! (I am sure there is lot to follow which will hamper peach efforts in the valley)
This in no circumstances can be termed as merely advocating an ideology.
I totally agree that our great country grants us constitutional freedom of speech and expression in 19(1)(a), but this freedom comes with reasonable restriction in article 19(2) and must be availed responsibly.
The constitution bench in Kedar Nath Judgement has categorically stated that ‘ every State, whatever its form of government, has the power to punish those who by their conduct, jeopardize the safety and stability of the state, or disseminate such feelings of disloyalty as have the tendency to lead to disruption of the state or to public order’.
Therefore, I utterly condemn the anti-national sentiments propagated by the protesters and welcome the decision of the police to take necessary action in the matter. Jai Hind.
Disclaimer : The view expressed are view of a university student and knowledge steez does not take any responsibility regarding its sanctity and originality.