Published on: October 30, 2021
Support for the national cricket team or its players is no litmus test for patriotism
Source: The Hindu
Context: People who allegedly celebrated Pakistan's victory over India in a T20 cricket World Cup match on October 24 are bearing the brunt of the state's wrath.
In Jammu and Kashmir: Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and other sections, the police have filed two cases against unknown people.
In Rajasthan: A young educator was fired from a private school, and the police have charged her with 'imputations, claims harmful to national integration' under IPC Section 153B.
In Uttar Pradesh: Three students from J&K have been charged with fostering enmity between communities under IPC Sections 153A, 505 (producing or publishing content to incite enmity), and, later, sedition under Section 124A.
Critiques on the application of Sedition act: People of Indian origin live around the world, with split loyalties.
At meetings in their home countries addressed by the Indian Prime Minister, some Americans cheer triumph for India, while others in the United Kingdom and Australia boo their own country in favour of India during sporting events.
International athletes make up sports teams all across the world.
ABOUT SEDITION: Section 124A criminalizes seditious acts, speech or writings: Any statement that caused "disaffection", namely exciting in others certain bad feelings towards government, even though there was no element of incitement to violence or rebellion.
Views from various Judgements
1962: Kedar nath vs State of Bihar: Supeme court held that application of Section 124A to acts involving intention or tendency to create disorder, or disturbance of law and order, or incitement to violence. Therefore, incitement to violence is the essential ingredient of the offence of sedition.
1995: Balwant Singh V/s State of Punjab: If the Slogans against the nation did not evoke any response from any other person (of Sikh community) or reaction from the people of other communities, raising such casual slogans a couple of times without any other act whatsoever, did not justify prosecution for sedition and Section 124-A could not be invoked.
2003: Nazir Khan V/s State of Delhi: "It is fundamental right of every citizen to have his own political theories and ideas and to propagate them and work for their establishment so long as he does not seek to do so by force and violence or contravene any provision of law, and that the mere use of words 'fight' & 'war' in their pledge did not necessarily mean that the society planned to achieve its object by force and violence."
Auradha Bhasin vs UOI case 2020: expounded Doctrine of Proportionality while invoking Sec 144 of CrPC.
Argument Against such restrictions:
Against democratic norms: People in a democracy have the unalienable right to change their government if they don't like it. People will show their dissatisfaction with a government that has failed them. They are not served by the law of sedition, which punishes people for opposing a government.
Constitutional violation: It is in violation of Article 19(1). (a). Sedition as a justifiable restriction was not adopted by the constituent assembly under article 19(2), despite the fact that it was specified in the draught. It is apparent that the framers of the Constitution did not believe sedition to be a reasonable restriction.
Suppressing criticism: It can be misused to gag press or suppress the criticism of the government.
Draconian nature of law: It is Non-bailable and Non-cognizible.
Moral question: Indians were against this act in colonial era as it was used to jail our freedom fighters. So it should have been automatically stuck down after independence.
Judgments don't prevent misuse: the Supreme court has held that without incitement to violence or rebellion there is no sedition. However, this has not closed the door on misuse of this law
Toxic hypernationalism: it is very bad for any country
Freedom of expression: It restricts people's ability to express themselves.
WAY FORWARD: Just because a Muslim or any other group celebrates a Muslim team's triumph does not indicate they are not nationals or anti-nationals. Hyper-nationalism should not be followed. India is noted for being a diverse country. Instead of using harsh measures, we should encourage people to be more tolerant.