Unwarranted arrest

GS 2

Context: The casual resort by the police to the sedition clause continues to cause concern

What’s the issue: Andhra Pradesh MP K. Raju have been booked under “sedition” charge by invoking Section 124 of IPC on the grounds of speech based offences related to his diatribe against the party leader and CM.

Facts at work

  •  The prosecution claims that his speeches stoked hatred against communities — he had referred to alleged rampant conversion activities in the State — and attracted prosecution under Section 153-A or Section 505.
  • These offences attract a prison term of only three years and, under the Arnesh Kumar ruling (2014) of the Supreme Court, there is no need to arrest a person for an offence that invites a prison term of seven years and less.
  •  Sedition, which allows a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, also prescribes an alternative jail term of three years.


  • There has been alleged illtreatment of the leader and thus the Supreme Court ordered his health examination at Army hospital.
  • The bail petition of MP is likely to be taken up later this week.  CID has named two television channelsin the FIR to which he gave interviews.

The need of Sedition clause

  • It is time for a reflection on the need and relevance of the offence of sedition, a colonial-era provision used to imprison people for political writings in support of Indian independence.
  • That State governments and various police departments are resorting to prosecution under this section, which is a poor reflection of the understanding of the law.
  • The sedition section is attracted only if there is an imminent threat to public order or there is actual incitement to violence — ingredients that are invariably absent in most cases.


  • It is vaguely and too broadly defined (the term ‘disaffection’ is said to include ‘disloyalty’ and ‘feelings of enmity’), warranting a total reconsideration.
  • the Supreme Court decided to revisit the constitutionality of this section.
  • Thus the fine balance between free speech and law has to be maintained for the better functioning of the state.

2. The Biden push-button to West Asia’s diplomatic resets

Context: Israel Palestine conflict has again erupted with sheer violence and lots of killings.

What’s the issue:

  • Unprecedented interactions among the major powers are leading to a significant diplomatic churn in the region.
  • Major West Asian nations have made new diplomatic engagements with rival parties that could in time overturn existing regional alignments and possibly end ongoing conflicts.
  • Afetr the removal of the diplomatic and economic blockade on Qatar that was imposed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, Doha has made efforts to mend ties with both Saudi Arabia and Egypt, along with Turkey.
  • On May 5, Turkey and Egypt had their first diplomatic meeting in Cairo after they had broken diplomatic ties in 2013. The two countries, on opposite sides on almost all regional issues, are now exploring how to address their differences.

The Biden challenge

  • The driving force behind these engagements is the advent of the Biden administration at the helm of politics in the United States.
  •  US President has signalled a fresh U.S. approach to West Asian affairs. It has taken a tough line on Saudi Arabia, indicating a closer scrutiny of its human rights record and strong opposition to the war in Yemen.
  • It now seems the U.S. could re-enter the nuclear agreement, but Iran has concerns about the limitations to be imposed on its regional role.
  • Turkey could also experience fresh winds from Washington. Turkish close ties with Russia, while threatening U.S. allies in Syria, the Kurds, with military force.
  • The broader message from Washington is that the U.S. is now likely to be less engaged with the region’s quarrels.
  • One major factor that is encouraging these unprecedented interactions among rivals is the recognition that the ongoing regional conflicts, in Syria, Yemen and Libya, despite the massive death and destruction, have yielded no military outcome and now demand fresh diplomatic approaches.

Recent engagements

  • Both Iran and Saudi Arabia have made efforts to improve the atmosphere.
  • In a recent interview, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke of seeking a “good and special relationship” with Iran. The Iranian spokesman responded by referring to a “new phase of cooperation and tolerance”.
  • The priority for the kingdom is to end the Yemen conflict. The recent Houthi attack on oil-rich Marib is  Saudi’s concern.
  •  Iran would like the blockaded Hodeidah port which is partially open, to be used to rush humanitarian aid to the beleaguered Houthis.
  • Both countries also share concerns relating to the political impasse in Lebanon and the security of the waters of the Gulf and the Red Sea where a “shadow war” on oil and merchant vessels could escalate into a larger conflict.
  • Till now both the countries have paid a heavy financial price for their rivalry.
  • Turkey is also exhibiting diplomatic dexterity and is trying to mend relations with Egypt to promote peace in Libya and purue thier joint intersets in East Mediterranian.
  • Turkey indication to work with the Saudis against the Houthis and facilitate the post-war political process through the Islamist Al-Islah party is a positive sign.
  • To promote regional peace, Qatar has called for a structured dialogue of the Gulf countries with Iran, affirming its view that Iran is a major presence in the regional security scenario.

Regional security

  • Egypt and Saudi remain sceptical of each others effort thus there is a long way in establishing regional peace.
  • There are also difficulties in  Saudi-Iran relations. Iran may ease the pressure on the kingdom in Yemen and gradually yield ground in Iraq: the latter has already conveyed its desire to be free from all external influences.
  •  Syria is important to test diplomatic skills as they explore how to accommodate their competing strategic interests in that devastated country.
  • It is truly a historic period for West Asian diplomacy: the major states are displaying an unprecedented self-confidence in pursuing initiatives without help of western powers .
  • The western powers have created deep animosities among them and in the pursuit of thier own interests thus rendering the region conflict ridden and dependent o western powers to ensure thier interests.

A role for India

  • Although the region is ready to negotiate without exrernal intervention but since regional contentions are inter-connected, third-party facilitators will be needed to promote mutual confidence and prepare the ground for a comprehensive regional security arrangement .   
  • This arrangement will have provisions for participating states to uphold regional peace and promote mutually beneficial cooperation in energy, economic and logistical connectivity areas.       
  • Given its close ties with all the regional states, India is well-placed to build an association of like-minded states — Japan, Russia, South Korea — to shape and pursue such an initiative for West Asian peace.


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