Sedition law abused and misused: SC judge

Sedition law abused and misused: SC judge

Justice Deepak Gupta of the Supreme Court on Saturday said the sedition law was more often “abused and misused than used” and suggested that an amendment was required to make the law non-cognisable so that no one gets arrested.

Justice Gupta said merely “discussing and advocating” an idea didn’t amount to sedition unless it led to violence.

“There is already reasonable restriction pertaining to sovereignty and integrity of the nation that is enough to avoid the law of sedition against dissenters,” said Justice Gupta at the 15th Justice P D Desai Memorial Lecture at Law Society in Ahmedabad.

Stating that he was a “liberal”, Justice Gupta said, “In my view freedom of speech and expression is much more important which no one can take away.”

“The right to freedom of opinion and the right to freedom of conscience by themselves include the extremely important right to disagree. Every society has its own rules and over a period of time when people only stick to age-old rules and conventions, society degenerates,” he said, adding that the “horizons of the mind will not expand if a person doesn’t ask questions”.

He also clarified that he was making the remarks in his individual capacity and not as a judge.

Lamenting the lack of discussions, Justice Gupta said governments were “not individuals” but “bodies” and it was okay to criticise them.

Justice Gupta also pointed to dangers of the cult of the individual.

“During the dark days of Emergency, some attempt was made by one party president to equate his leader with the country. That attempt failed miserably, and I hope that nobody tries to recreate such an image that any individual is bigger than the country. There no individual bigger than the country. Our country is much bigger than the individual,” he said.

Asking citizens to have no fear of the government, Justice Gupta said, “A important aspect of a democracy is that citizens should have no fear of the government. They should not be scared of expressing their views which may not be liked by those in power. These views should be expressed in civilised manner without inciting violence.”


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