Teen Point of View

Misuse of the sedition law — threat to the Right to Expression?

APRIL 2019 TOPIC: Misuse of the Sedition Law is a threat to the Right to Expression enjoyed by every Indian citizen. What do you think?

Since ‘sedition’ is a vaguely defined term, the subjectivity of ‘sedition’ makes it a convenient tool to curb genuine dissent. The plausible life sentence on charges of sedition dissuades free articulation of discontent against the state’s callousness or inefficiency. The slow judicial process itself becomes a punishment for the accused with repeated court summons and high costs of court proceedings. Historically, the purpose of the sedition law was to arbitrarily suppress expression of resentment against an oppressive colonial rule. Today the sedition law finds utility in preserving Indian integrity by stubbing secessionism; it is imperative that governments show maturity to use it for just that, and advance democratic liberties.
Shailja Pandey

In India, everybody has the right to expression. Every single person has the right and opportunities to speak about any topic he/she wishes to speak about, analyze or criticize. But this right can be compromised due to the Sedition Law under which any citizen who speaks against someone or any organisation or a group can be punished. Accordingly, we realise that by the wrong use of the Sedition Law, people are forbidden or stopped from speaking against a topic which is sensitive or of great debate across the country.
Senjuti Saibal Bhattacharya (18)
A C Patil College of Engineering, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai

According to the sedition law, if anybody uses strong language or leads a strong protest against the government, he/she will be given harsh punishment for provoking people against the government. If this sedition law is misused, it will constitute a threat to the right to expression enjoyed the citizens. The sedition law enforcement ought to be taken judiciously and not misused in order to guard the freedom of every Indian citizen and to maintain peace in the country.
Aishwarya Chakraborty (19)
Gokhale Memorial Girls’ College, Kolkata

I do agree that misuse of the sedition law is a threat to the right to expression of an Indian citizen. According to the sedition law any act, verbal, written or non-verbal, which attempts to bring contempt against the government shall be punished with life imprisonment or jail for three years. But this law is in opposition to the citizens’ Right to Expression. Government officials wanting to suppress people from spreading the wrong deeds of the government can easily do so with this law. When people are afraid of the consequences, they wouldn’t dare to speak against the government. In such cases, the country will become corrupt and the citizens of the country will be harassed by the officials.
Gouri B. Indi (19)
Lingaraj College of Arts and Commerce, Belgaum

We live in a democratic country where every citizen, irrespective of caste, gender or race has the right to express his/her opinions. As per our Constitution we have the right to criticise the government. But according to sedition law, we are not allowed to speak, write or even support anyone against the government. When we inter-relate these two genres, we come to the conclusion that sedition law is indeed a threat to the right to speech and expression enjoyed by the Indian citizen. Every citizen has his/her own methods of rational judgement. If someone is not in favour of the policies initiated by the govt then the govt has to respect his/her view point. If we are restricted from expressing our opinions, then there is practically no difference between pre- and post colonialism. If the government does not tolerate positive criticism, then it is not a sign of healthy democracy. Most importantly, democracy itself means people’s rule and people’s voice. So under any condition, the government has to respect what is conveyed by the citizens and is bound to fulfil their wishes.
Sonali Garg (19)
GGSIP New Delhi

To stop people from misusing the right of expression against the unity and integrity of the nation, the sedition law was made. Now, it is being misused for selfish interests. Between 2015 and 2018, 179 were arrested on charges of sedition, but only two were convicted. The reason behind this low rate of conviction is that almost all those arrested were charged with false accusations.
Rohit Srivastava (14)
Jeevan Marg Sophia Secondary School, Deoria

Freedom of speech is one of the basic fundamental rights of each Indian citizen: to agree or disagree with the government. The constant use of the sedition law shows that governments are intolerant towards disagreements. It also means subversion of the Constitution.
Mahak Singh (13)
St Anthony’s Jr College, Agra

Presently, every citizen is passing his or her view about the functioning of the government thinking that it comes under their right to expression. But if we look at it from the point of view of the law then they are violating the sedition law. We remember how three students from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, were punished for violating the sedition law.
Manas Kedia (14)
Jeevan Marg Sophia Secondary School, Deoria

Our commitment to freedom of expression demands that it cannot be suppressed unless the situations created by allowing the freedom are pressing and the community interest is endangered. The anticipated danger should not be remote, conjectural or far-fetched. The expression of thought should be intrinsically dangerous to the public interest. One of the credibility tests for determining where the sedition law could be applied would be to understand the context of the speech, the status of the speaker and the addressee of the speech. If a political leader made a formal speech to his cadre threatening to harm another community, one could reasonably assume that the nexus between the speech and the possibility of imminent lawless action is very high.
Atharva Tadas (15)
Agragami Convent School, Wardha