'Sedition is a necessary legal provision'

'Sedition is a necessary legal provision'

Former Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde. (DH Photo)

Section 124A is necessary because without such laws there is a possibility of some undesirable persons making seditious statements with an effort to divide the country, leading to undesirable consequences which may lead to law and order problems apart from affecting the integrity of the nation.

One can have a difference of opinion, but that should remain within the country. That should not be taken out of the country for denigrating the country. Nationalism is something that is very sacred. 

After independence, different political parties have been in power. They have accepted that the sedition law is a reasonable law that has to be in the statute book. Otherwise, they would have removed it.

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Recently, many young students have been dragged onto the streets against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 without them even knowing what the Act means. Unless there are restrictions like this, people will go on saying anything they want.

In our country, freedom of expression is not absolute and is tethered to the reasonable restrictions on them under the laws made by the Parliament.

Also Read: Fear and loathing in ‘sedition land’

This is not to say that this law is not being used for political purposes, but it’s the responsibility of the court to decide whether they are right or wrong. They decide whether the arrest of a person for making a statement which the prosecution of the government alleges to be seditious is a violation of the fundamental right of Freedom of Speech. If it is a violation of the rights, if it doesn’t come under Section 124A, the court will acquit. Hence, it is fallacious to say that any action taken under Section 124A amounts to a restriction of the fundamental right. Therefore, let us not dilute every law. Today, the acquittal rates are so high that we require stricter laws than what we have currently. 

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As a former judge, I would also say that the Mysuru Bar Association’s decision that no lawyer will defend the person against whom the sedition case was filed recently, was also wrong. 

(The writer is a former Supreme Court judge)

As told to Anitha Pailoor

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