This article was written by Rahul Saraswat, a student of Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar.
To sympathise and support the voice and issues of Kashmiri students in Delhi and to commemorate Afzal Guru, a group of 10 students from Jawaharlal Nehru University organised the cultural event “The Country Without a post office” on February 9. The title of the event was taken from a poem “The country without a post office” written by Agha Shahid Ali in 1997. As many criticised the event but many prominent lawyers, politicians, writer such as Arundhati Roy said that ‘the hanging of Afzal Guru is a stain on India’s Democracy’ and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, the feminist theorist Judith Butler has supported the Cultural event of JNU students. This issue is continuously revolving in media, social media, and even in parliament because of the slogans shouted during the event such as “Bharat ki Barbadi tak Jung Rahegi, Hindustan Murdabad, etc. which according to Government of India are Seditious in nature. The leftist group which include the organised of the cultural event has strongly criticised the slogans shouted on the campus, there is a big question that who shouted these anti-national slogan during event? The leader and president of JNUSU Kanhaiya kumar along with other 5 members were arrested by Delhi policeon February 12, following the orders from Union Home minister Rajnath Singh for the charge of Sedition on them because of shouting anti-national slogans. Kanahiya Kumar with 5 other was painted with the brush of anti-nationalist. The FIR under section 124(A) of IPC (sedition) and 120(B) of IPC (criminal conspiracy) was registered against unknown persons at Vasant Kunj (north) police station and video of footage was also given as evidence for further action. SC has narrowed down the law of Sedition to include only those acts which are an incitement to violence or public disorder, Section 124 was not part of IPC when it was enacted in 1860 but it came through the amendment in 1870. In 1898, section 124 was amended and the term ‘hatred’ and ‘contempt’ were included along with disaffection which stated to include ‘disloyalty’ and all feelings of enmity. It is consider as an accident that section 124A has survived after the constitution of India came into force, the provision is to be excluded in view of article 13 of the constitution, even it was declared unconstitutional by Allahabad and Punjab high court in 1951 and 1959 but Supreme court in 1962 in case of KedarNath Singh v. State of Bihar held the section 124A constitutional and held that “section could only be invoked when there is any tendency to public disorder by use of violence or incitement to violence”. Also in 1922 when Mahatma Gandhi was charged under this section told the Judge that “this section is prince among the IPC sections designed to supress liberty”. In many case of sedition, high courts have granted bailed or acquitted the accused for wants of evidence. In the present case the only offence against kanahiya kumar appears to be that he was present when certain slogans were raised by some people who were critical of hanging of Afzal Guru, Kanahiya Kumar in his speech at JNU has also said that some unidentified people with their face covered raised the slogans and we tried to stop them, which is also evident from the footage. An analysis of Section 124A as shows that mere raising of (this) slogans at a public event is not enough to attract the provision of this section also the word ‘SEDITION’ is found as marginal note to section 124A, and is not an operative part of section but merely provides the name by which the crime defined in the section will be known.Also mere filing a case or declaration of someone speech by any group does not amount to sedition under section 124A, here the police relied upon the CCTV footage and news channel clips, out of 7 videos of the events sent to forensic lab, three were found to be doctored including a clipping of the news channel, now alleging that the slogans shouted at JNU by the Left group which include organising members of the Cultural event by just looking at doctored videos we cannot charge them with Sedition, whether or not they raised these slogans has not ipso facto constitute sedition, thus the slogan shouting incidents at JNU fall outside the ambit of Sedition. In a democratic country charging youths with sedition and comparing them with terrorist does not constitute good governance. The Patiala house court has granted an interim bail to Kanahiya kumar and held that there was no recording of Kumar participating in anti-national slogans. More than 500 academic around the world and the JNU alumni, Sitaram Yechury, has supported the JNU movement, former SC judge Justice Faizanuddin said that ‘India is the largest democracy, and we are living in 21st century, are we to be affected by such slogans. It is tragi-comic that there is talk of ‘Sedition’ at a time when it is regarded as obsolete in many countries. The most enthusiastic user of Sedition laws during colonial times was United Kingdom, which repealed its Sedition laws in 2009 because they had become obsolete, in United States Sedition law has remained unused since 1961 and US judiciary has ruled that “ideas, no matter how seemingly harmful, can never be a basis for charging someone with sedition”, in Britain, the last completed trial in a sedition case dates back to 1947, but in India we are continuously using Sedition laws, which has same text as it was used by British against Gandhi to put him behind bars, the person whom it was beyond imagination to suggest an incitement to violence or public disorder was convicted under this section. In India we use Sedition Laws against lecturers, journalist, and cartoonist and alleged them as anti-national and comparing them with Terrorist. The protester here are students and they have all right in this age to be wrong and Government is charging them under such highly objectionable and obnoxious section, as Swami Vivekananda said “Youth is the future”, now by putting our youth behind the bars for such a section which has no place for both practical and historical reasons are we not doing injustice with them?