Sedition annoyance: On case against celebrities

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Sedition annoyance: On case against celebrities

The lower judiciary should not act reflexively on frivolous, politically motivated complaints
The registration of a case of sedition(राजद्रोह/विद्रोह) against 49 prominent citizens at a police station in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur for writing an open letter in July to the Prime Minister has caused(कारण ) understandable outrage(आक्रोश/उल्लंघन). There was nothing in the appeal, which asks for steps to stop lynching(हत्या/बिना मुकदमे मार डालना ) and other hate crimes, especially(विशेष रूप से) in the name of religion(धर्म ), that even vaguely(अस्पष्ट रूप से) connoted an attempt(प्रयास) to promote(बढ़ावा देना) disaffection(निराशा ) or any prejudice(पूर्वाग्रह) to national integration(एकीकरण). In these polarised(ध्रुवीकृत ) times, it is not surprising that a lawyer took it upon himself to initiate(शुरू करें/आरंभ) criminal(आपराधिक ) proceedings(कार्यवाही ) against the film-makers, artists and writers such as Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Aparna Sen and Ramachandra Guha for signing the open appeal on a matter of public concern(चिंता). That a chief judicial magistrate had taken this vexatious(अफ़सोसनाक) complaint on file and directed the police to register an FIR is perplexing. Magistrates indeed have the power to order a police investigation into cognisable(संज्ञेय ) offences(अपराध). And the Supreme Court has, in Lalita Kumari vs. Uttar Pradesh (2013), laid down that registration of an FIR is mandatory(अनिवार्य ) if information received by the police discloses(खुलासा ) a cognisable offence, and that in some cases, a preliminary enquiry may be conducted(संचालित) before the FIR is registered. However, in this case, it is quite astounding(चकित/अद्भुत) how the court or the police could conclude that the contents were seditious(देशद्रोही ) or indicative(सूचक) of any other offence.

While private complaints targeting(लक्षित करना ) public figures(आंकड़ों ) are not unusual, courts should not, without sufficient(पर्याप्त ) cause, indulge(लिप्त/भड़काना) the motivated(प्रेरित ) outrage of litigious(विवादी ) complainants. Superior courts do intervene(हस्तक्षेप ) to quell(रोकने/वश में करना ) attempts by those claiming(दावा किया) to be offended(आहत/अपमानित) by some remark or public statements, but it is time the lower judiciary stopped acting reflexively on frivolous(तुच्छ ) complaints. Surely, the court should have been aware(अवगत ) of the ongoing national debate(बहस) on retaining(चित्त में रखना/बनाए रखने की) sedition as an offence under the IPC’s Section 124A and growing demand(मांग ) for its abrogation(निरस्त/निराकरण). The pervasive(व्यापक/फैलनेवाला) disregard(अवहेलना/अनादर) for public opinion against the indiscriminate(अंधाधुंध/विवेकहीन) use of the sedition provision(प्रावधान) is disappointing(निराशाजनक ) enough. It is worse(और भी बुरा) if the magistracy disregards(अपमान/उपेक्षा) Supreme Court judgments that say sedition is attracted only if there is incitement(उकसाने/शह) to violence(हिंसा ), and does not apply to statements that contain mere opinions, howsoever strong they may be. It is unfortunate that the court did not see that the complaint was nothing more than a political counterblast to what the complainant saw as criticism(आलोचना) of the Prime Minister. One can only hope that the Patna High Court puts an end to this farcical(विनोदपूर्ण) attempt to use the judiciary for political ends, and also examine how its supervisory(निरीक्षणात्मक/पर्यवेक्षी) powers can be used to sensitise the magistracy to the constitutional provisions protecting free speech.

 

Important Vocabulary

1. Astounding(चकित/अद्भुत
Synonyms: astonishing, breathtaking, eye-popping, mind-boggling overwhelming

2. Criticism(आलोचना)
Synonyms: assessment, comment, critique, judgment, opinion
Antonyms: heedlessness, neglect, approval, compliment, estimation

3. Cognizable(संज्ञेय
Synonyms: appreciable, audible, detectable, discernible, distinct
Antonyms: hidden, imperceptible, indistinct, obscure, unrecognizable

4. Disregard(अवहेलना/अनादर)
Synonyms: apathy, contempt, disdain, disrespect, inattention, indifference
Antonyms: admiration, approval, care, concern, esteem

5. Discloses(खुलासा )
Synonyms: acknowledge, admit, confess, discover, divulge
Antonyms: conceal, cover, deny, disavow, hide

6. Frivolous(तुच्छ
Synonyms: foolish, idiotic, impractical, petty, pointless
Antonyms: intelligent, sensible, wise, grave, mature

7. Initiate(शुरू करें/आरंभ
Synonyms: begin, commence, inaugurate, institute, launch
Antonyms: block, cease, close, complete , conclude

8. Indulge(लिप्त/भड़काना)
Synonyms: entertain, nourish, pamper, satiate, satisfy
Antonyms: deprive, dissatisfy, ignore, neglect, annoy

9. Incitement(उकसाने/शह
Synonyms: instigation, provocation, incentive, incitation, stimulus
Antonyms: hindrance

10. Lynching(हत्या/बिना मुकदमे मार डालना )
Synonyms: execution, capital punishment, mob justice, stringing up, the gallows

11. Litigious(विवादी
Synonyms: belligerent, combative, contentious, argumentative, disputable

12. Outrage(आक्रोश/उल्लंघन).
Synonyms: shock, violence, abuse, affront, barbarism
Antonyms: advantage, aid, benefit, blessing, compliment

13. Quell(रोकने/वश में करना )
Synonyms: annihilate, conquer, crush, extinguish, overcome
Antonyms: build up, compliment, encourage, help, lose, praise

14. Sedition(राजद्रोह/विद्रोह)
Synonyms: insubordination, insurrection, mutiny, treason, agitation
Antonyms: obedience, calm, peace, submission

15. Supervisory(निरीक्षणात्मक/पर्यवेक्षी
Synonyms: bureaucratic, departmental, governmental, legislative, manageria

16. Vexatious(अफ़सोसनाक)
Synonyms: afflicting, aggravating, annoying, burdensome, disagreeable
Antonyms: aiding, assisting, helpful, pleasing, soothing

17. Vaguely(अस्पष्ट रूप से
Synonyms: ambiguously, hazily, obscurely, uncertainly, unsurely

 

Credit To The Hindu News Paper

The registration of a case of sedition against 49 prominent citizens at a police station in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur for writing an open letter in July to the Prime Minister has caused understandable outrage. There was nothing in the appeal, which asks for steps to stop lynching and other hate crimes, especially in the name of religion, that even vaguely connoted an attempt to promote disaffection or any prejudice to national integration. In these polarised times, it is not surprising that a lawyer took it upon himself to initiate criminal proceedings against the film-makers, artists and writers such as Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Aparna Sen and Ramachandra Guha for signing the open appeal on a matter of public concern. That a chief judicial magistrate had taken this vexatious complaint on file and directed the police to register an FIR is perplexing. Magistrates indeed have the power to order a police investigation into cognisable offences. And the Supreme Court has, in Lalita Kumari vs. Uttar Pradesh (2013), laid down that registration of an FIR is mandatory if information received by the police discloses a cognisable offence, and that in some cases, a preliminary enquiry may be conducted before the FIR is registered. However, in this case, it is quite astounding how the court or the police could conclude that the contents were seditious or indicative of any other offence.

While private complaints targeting public figures are not unusual, courts should not, without sufficient cause, indulge the motivated outrage of litigious complainants. Superior courts do intervene to quell attempts by those claiming to be offended by some remark or public statements, but it is time the lower judiciary stopped acting reflexively on frivolous complaints. Surely, the court should have been aware of the ongoing national debate on retaining sedition as an offence under the IPC’s Section 124A and growing demand for its abrogation. The pervasive disregard for public opinion against the indiscriminate use of the sedition provision is disappointing enough. It is worse if the magistracy disregards Supreme Court judgments that say sedition is attracted only if there is incitement to violence, and does not apply to statements that contain mere opinions, howsoever strong they may be. It is unfortunate that the court did not see that the complaint was nothing more than a political counterblast to what the complainant saw as criticism of the Prime Minister. One can only hope that the Patna High Court puts an end to this farcical attempt to use the judiciary for political ends, and also examine how its supervisory powers can be used to sensitise the magistracy to the constitutional provisions protecting free speech.

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