THERE IS A tendency to confuse government with the nation. There are people, particularly the Andh-bhakts, who believe that any criticism of government is an act of treason against the nation. Similarly if there are protests against the government, it is presumed that these are against the country.
The proof of such a tendency is the rampant misuse of laws, particularly the draconian laws such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and laws dealing with sedition and secession.
There has been a sharp increase in the number of persons booked under these laws. Many a times these laws are invoked for holding protests and even writing on social media including Twitter.
The sedition laws, a relic of the British Raj, has also been grossly misused against the citizens. The United Kingdom had enforced the law to curb the freedom movement and had abolished the law in the country of its origin.
However it continues to be misused in free India and despite the courts striking down several cases registered against the law.
Various courts have recently intervened to protect the rights of the citizens by calling out the bluff and excesses of the government and its agencies.
Recently a court threw out of a case of sedition against well known journalist Vinod Dua who had been taking a critical look at the functioning of the government.
The court said that mere strong words used to express criticism of the measures taken by the government with a view to suggest improvement by lawful means is not sedition.
red the line between the right to protest and terrorist activities”. It warned that if the two are regarded as same offence, the country’s democracy will be in peril.
The three student activists had remained behind bars since over a year after they were arrested for inciting others to protest during the agitation against Citizens Amendment Act.
These students Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Asif Iqbal Tanha were charged under UAPA.
The court said they found no specific allegation that the accused invited violence “what to talk of committing a terrorist act” as understood under the UAPA.
The bench commented that the right to protest is not illegal and cannot be termed as a “terrorist act”.
The grant of bail to the student activists and the comments made by the three member bench of the Delhi high court should lead to the government to restrain its law enforcing agencies to desist from applying such harsh laws on protestors.
While commenting on the UAPA cases against the three Delhi students, the high court came up with a very important point. It said that the frequent use of serious penal provisions would only trivialise them.
It also pointed out that “the foundations of our nation stand on surer footing than to be likely to be shaken by a protest, however vicious, organised by college students…. In the heart of Delhi”.
There are enough laws in the country to deal with any crime. It is high time to do away with draconian laws like UAPA or to use these in rarest of rare cases. Also those misusing such laws must not escape punishment.
Disclaimer : PunjabTodayTV.com and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors’ right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabTodayTV.com or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.
Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.
— Team PT