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

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.