Millennium Post

Lingering colonial hangover

Lingering colonial hangover

Lexically, any conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch amounts to sedition. This has to mean that criminalising sedition is a method of keeping secure an established authority. Sedition may include any commotion, though not necessarily aimed at direct and open violence against the laws. The discussion digresses a little here: if there is any resistance to a law, the law must be considered afresh. The common people will make their resistance known–it is no secret that the affluent and the powerful will find ways to dodge the law if it is any kind of impediment in the way of their interest. It hereby concludes that the preventive application of sedition law cannot be for someone who can circumvent laws; meaning thereby that it is potentially an instrument of harassment for an ordinary citizen exercising their fundamental right to freedom of thought and expression. Essentially, sedition is a kind of state-endorsed censorship. The matter of sedition sprang back into light with Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai saying that the law is necessary to 'effectively combat anti-national, secessionist, and terrorist elements', when he was responding to a written question posed by TRS MP Banda Prakash who had asked if the government was mulling to scrap the sedition law which, he said, "is a colonial-era law applicable on free citizens of the Republic". It turns out that the Centre has no plans to scrap this law, as of now. As per official data, 179 people have been arrested on the charge of sedition during 2014-2016 but only two were convicted. The Home Ministry had earlier written to the Ministry of Law and Justice to request the Law Commission of India to study the usage of the provisions of Section 124 A (Sedition) and suggest amendments. In August last year, the Commission published a consultation paper recommending that it is time to re-think or even repeal Section 124A from the IPC. Anti-national, secessionist, and terrorist elements cannot all be spoken of in the same breath. Indeed, it is time we get past this colonial hangover.

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