Skip to main content

Don't make use of archaic sedition law to curb freedom of expression: Amnesty on Kerala youth's arrest

By Our Representative
Amnesty International India has sharply criticized the arrest and detention of a 25-year old man accused of sedition for allegedly disrespecting India’s national symbols, pointing out that this suggests "how archaic laws continue to be used to curb free speech in India.” In a statement, Amnesty, a human rights organization with presence in several countries, said, “On August 20, 2014, police in Kerala arrested Salman M for allegedly making catcalls and not standing up when India’s national anthem was being played at a cinema two days earlier.”
This made the authorities accuse him of “sedition, insulting the Indian national flag and Constitution, and preventing the singing of the national anthem”, Amnesty said, adding, not only this, Salman M was also accused under section 66A of India’s Information Technology Act for allegedly publishing abusive social media posts about Independence Day on August 15. A Thiruvananthapuram court denied him bail on 25 August”. The top NGO apprehends, Salman M could “face a life sentence if convicted.”
Giving the statement on behalf of Amnesty, Shailesh Rai, programmes director, said, “A criminal charge for such conduct, even if some might regard it as offensive, is completely unwarranted, Nobody should have to go to prison merely because they are accused of causing offense. The Constitution of India and international law recognize the right to freedom of expression, and this right extends to speech that offends or disturbs. Authorities must respect this fundamental right, not seek to curb it.”
Demanding that the case against Salman M should be “dropped and he must be released”, Amnesy stressed, “Indian laws on sedition and online free speech do not meet international human rights standards on freedom of expression. These laws must be urgently repealed.” It added, “India’s archaic sedition law has been used to harass and persecute activists and others for their peaceful exercise of their right to free expression.”
Pointing out how Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code defines sedition as any act or attempt “to bring into hatred or contempt, or…excite disaffection towards the government”, Amnesty recalled, even “Mahatma Gandhi had called the law ;the prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen’.”
It added, “Section 66A of the Information Technology Act criminalizes acts including sending information that is ‘grossly offensive’ or causes ‘annoyance’ and ‘inconvenience’. The law is imprecise and overbroad. It can be used to violate legitimate exercise of the right to free speech and can lead to arbitrary arrests. A number of activists and legal experts have challenged the constitutionality of section 66A.”
Amnesty pointed out, “The UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a state party, has expressed concern regarding laws on issues such as disrespect for flags and symbols.” Amnesty’s protest against the sedition law comes following a submission it made before the Law Commission of India in June 2014 (click HERE to read) where it insisted on the need to undertake critical legal reforms to better defend the right to free speech.
Saying that this is important against the backdrop of a “growing trend of intolerance towards dissent and criticism”, elucidating the submission, Amnesty underlined, “Authorities have shown a worrying eagerness to arrest and detain people for the lawful exercise of their constitutional rights to free speech, especially when it concerns the new Prime Minister.”
Giving examples, Amnesty said, “In May 2014, police in Bangalore arrested a man for sending a photograph on his phone depicting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a funeral pyre. The same month, police in Panaji, Goa filed a First Information Report against a man who said in an online post that if Narendra Modi came to power, it would lead to a holocaust.”

Comments

TRENDING

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Across the board, among Muslims, Hindus, there's enormous fury at Delhi Police: Report

Counterview Desk
A quick report, prepared by Delhi's concerned citizens, "Let Us Heal Our Dilli", based on one-day visit (February 27) to several areas and mohallas of North East Delhi affected by the riots that gripped the country's capital -- Bhajanpura, Chand Bagh, Gokulpuri, Chaman Park, Shiv Vihar, Main Mustafabad (including Bhagirathi Vihar and Brijpuri) -- has said everywhere there is "zero trust" towards that the police.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Haridwar Swamis lead Khudai Khidmatgar peace march in Delhi 'riot affected' areas

By Our Representative
A Khudai Kidmatgar team, which visited the riot-affected regions along with Swami Shivanand Saraswati and Swami Punyanand, has insisted that India's true heritage is the lesson of ‘vasudhaiv kutumbakam', and it is the responsibility of all to carry froward this legacy. Originally founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1930, also known as Frontier Gandhi, Khudai Khidmatgar is claimed to have been revived by young Gandhian activist Faisal Khan in 2011.