In a recent development, the Government of India has informed the Supreme Court that the re-examination of Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, commonly known as the sedition law, is at an advanced stage. This colonial-era law has faced criticism for its alleged misuse by governments across the political spectrum. The government’s re-examination is seen as a positive response to concerns regarding the law’s relevance and application in contemporary times.
However, amidst this backdrop, a discordant note has been struck with the summoning of CPM MP John Brittas by Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar. Brittas faced allegations of expressing seditious political views in an article titled ‘The perils of propaganda.’ The article, written in response to statements made by Home Minister Amit Shah during a rally in Mangaluru, Karnataka, criticized the use of Kerala, ruled by the CPM, as a part of political rhetoric by senior BJP leaders.
Controversy and Jurisdiction
The summoning of John Brittas and the subsequent show cause notice issued by the Rajya Sabha have raised questions regarding the jurisdiction and intent behind these actions. While it is within the Vice-President’s purview to have discussions with MPs, it is crucial to avoid the perception of curbing free speech rights. The right to express dissent, even against the government and its leaders, is protected by the Supreme Court’s precedent.
Affirmation of Free Speech Rights
The 1962 Supreme Court case of Kedar Nath vs Union of India holds significant relevance in this context. The court ruled that comments expressing disapproval of government actions, however strongly worded, do not amount to sedition. This implies that John Brittas, as an MP or any citizen, has the right to criticize the government and its leaders without facing charges of sedition.
Political Rhetoric and Opposition’s Response
The article written by John Brittas must be seen as a response to the political rhetoric employed by the BJP leaders. While a Kerala BJP leader lodged a complaint against the article, labeling it as divisive and polarizing, it is essential to distinguish between political rhetoric and seditious speech. Opposition leaders have a crucial role to play in expressing their views, even if they differ from those in power.
In conclusion, the re-examination of the sedition law by the Government of India indicates a positive step toward addressing concerns surrounding its misuse. However, it is equally important to protect the freedom of speech and ensure that opposition leaders have the right to express their dissent without fear of reprisals. Upholding the principles of free speech and open debate is vital for a thriving democracy.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the status of the re-examination of Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code?
The Government of India has stated that the re-examination of Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, also known as the sedition law, is at a substantially advanced stage. This step has been taken in response to concerns regarding the law’s alleged misuse and its relevance in the present context.
Why was CPM MP John Brittas summoned by Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar?
John Brittas was summoned by Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar for his alleged seditious political views expressed in a newspaper article titled ‘The perils of propaganda.’ The article criticized statements made by Home Minister Amit Shah during a rally in Mangaluru, Karnataka.
What did Home Minister Amit Shah say during the rally in Mangaluru, Karnataka?
Home Minister Amit Shah, while addressing the rally in Mangaluru, Karnataka, stated, “There is Kerala in your neighborhood. I do not wish to speak more. Only the BJP under the leadership of Modi can protect Karnataka.” This statement invoked Kerala, which is ruled by the CPM, as a part of political rhetoric on the campaign trail.
What was the reaction to John Brittas’ article and who complained about it?
The article written by John Brittas titled ‘The perils of propaganda’ drew objections from Kerala BJP leader P Sudheer. Sudheer complained that the article was highly divisive, polarizing, and seditious, which led to the summons issued to Brittas by Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar and the show cause notice issued by the Rajya Sabha.
What is the stance of the Supreme Court regarding “seditious” speech?
In the 1962 Supreme Court case of Kedar Nath vs Union of India, it was affirmed that “comments, however strongly worded, expressing disapprobation of actions of the Government” do not constitute “seditious” speech. This indicates that individuals, including MPs like John Brittas, have the right to speak and write against the government and its leaders as part of free speech rights.