Skip to main content

Modi's promise on his government's commitment to rule of law "increasingly ringing hollow", says Amnesty

By Our Representative
Amnesty International has come down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on recent events in Delhi in the wake of arrest of Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, saying, “India’s Prime Minister has spoken repeatedly at home and abroad of his government’s commitment to the rule of law. Those promises are increasingly ringing hollow.”
One of the topmost international advocacy groups with network in most parts of the world, Amnesty said the arrest of Kumar and former Delhi University lecturer SAR Geelani later, as also “multiple attacks” on journalists and others at a Delhi court, suggest “casual disregard for constitutionally guaranteed rights.”
Police arrested Kumar on February 12 and for allegedly raising ‘anti-national’ slogans at a peaceful demonstration inside the JNU campus, and Geelani on February 16 for organizing an event in Delhi where ‘anti-India’ slogans were allegedly raised.
Both were arrested under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, which makes the offence of sedition punishable with life imprisonment. “By branding people ‘anti-national’ merely for expressing opposing views, the central government and Delhi police are displaying an appalling intolerance for dissent,” Amnesty said.
Recalling that the Delhi Police arrested Kanhaiya and Geelani under the sedition law “enacted during the British era to stifle dissent during India’s independence struggle”, Amnesty said, “Mahatma Gandhi, who was imprisoned under the law, called it ‘the prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen’.”
Saying that “successive governments in India have deployed it against journalists, activists and human rights defenders”, Amnesty noted, “In 2015, the law was used to arrest a Dalit folk singer in Tamil Nadu for songs criticizing the state government.”
In yet another example of the misuse of the law, Amnesty said, it was used against Hardik Patel, “a community leader in Gujarat protesting for quotas in education and employment.”
The arrests have been made under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, which defines sedition as any act or attempt “to bring into hatred or contempt, or…excite disaffection towards the government”. A bill is pending in the Lok Sabha seeking to amend the sedition law to cover only cases involving direct incitement of violence.
Amnesty said, “Under international human rights law binding on India, states are allowed to impose restrictions on the right to freedom of expression on grounds including ‘public order’. However, any such restriction must be demonstrably necessary and proportionate, and must not jeopardise the right itself.”
Further referring to the events of February 16-17 – assault on Kanhaiya Kumar ahead of a hearing at a Delhi trial court, and beating up of journalists, students and teachers in the court premises – Amnesty noted, “The police failure to protect people from violent attacks inside court premises is mystifying.”
Calling it a “disdain for the right to freedom of expression” as also “both misguided and dangerous”, Amnesty statement acquires significance as it comes ahead of the crucial scheduled Supreme Court hearing of the arrests.

Comments

TRENDING

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Visually challenged lady seeks appointment with Gujarat CM, is 'unofficially' detained

By Pankti Jog*
It was a usual noon of November 10. I got a phone call on our Right to Information (RTI) helpline No 9924085000 from Ranjanben of Khambhat, narrating her “disgraceful” experience after she had requested for an appointment with Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani. She wanted to meet Rupani, on tour of the Khambhat area in Central Gujarat as part of his Janvikas Jumbesh (Campaign for Development).

Violent 'Ajodhya' campaign in 1840s after British captured Kabul, destroyed Jama Masjid

Counterview Desk  Irfan Ahmad, professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany, and author of “Islamism and Democracy in India” (Princeton University Press, 2009), short-listed for the 2011 International Convention of Asian Scholars Book Prize for the best study in Social Sciences, in his "initial thoughts" on the Supreme Court judgment on the Babri-Jam Janmaboomi dispute has said, while order was “lawful”, it was also “awful.”

There may have been Buddhist stupa at Babri site during Gupta period: Archeologist

By Rajiv Shah
A top-notch archeologist, Prof Supriya Varma, who served as an observer during the excavation of the Babri Masjid site in early 2000s along with another archeologist, Jaya Menon, has controversially stated that not only was there "no temple under the Babri Masjid”, if one goes “beyond” the 12th century to 4th to 6th century, i.e. the Gupta period, “there seems to be a Buddhist stupa.”

VHP doesn't represent all Hindus, Sunni Waqf Board all Muslims: NAPM on SC ruling

Counterview Desk
India's top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), even as describing the Supreme Court's Ayodhya judgement unjust, has said, it is an "assault on the secular fabric of the Constitution". In a statement signed by top social workers and activists, NAPM said, "The judgement conveys an impression to Muslims that, despite being equal citizens of the country, their rights are not equal before the law."

Holy dip in Sabarmati? Ahmedabad industrial units discharge wastewater despite notice

By Our Representative
In a sharp admission, the Gujarat government has said that most of the industrial units of Ahmedabad, as also the city's residential houses, discharge waste water in Sabarmati, polluting the river. Notably, the river’s 11 kilometre stretch in Ahmedabad, where the riverfront has been beautified, is sought to be projected as a model for the country as a whole.