1. Support for the national cricket team or its players is no litmus test for patriotism

Context:  People who allegedly celebrated the victory of Pakistan against India in a T20 cricket World Cup match on October 24 are facing the brunt of the state.

For example:

  • In Rajasthan:  a young schoolteacher has been terminated by a private school and the police have charged her under IPC Section 153B for ‘imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration’.
  • In Jammu and Kashmir: the police have registered two cases against unknown persons under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and other sections. 
  • In Uttar Pradesh:  three students from J&K have been charged under IPC Sections 153A (promoting enmity between groups), 505 (creating or publishing content to promote enmity) and, later, Section 124A, sedition. 

Critiques on the application of Sedition act: People of Indian origin live around the world, with split loyalties. 

  • There are U.S. citizens who chant victory for India at gatherings in their home countries addressed by the Indian Prime Minister, and there are British and Australian citizens who boo their own country in favour of India during sporting events.
  • Sports teams around the world have members of foreign origin.

ABOUT SEDITION: Section 124A criminalizes seditious acts, speech or writings: Any statement that caused “disaffection”, namely exciting in others certain bad feelings towards government, even though there was no element of incitement to violence or rebellion.

Views from various Judgements

  • 1962: Kedar nath vs State of Bihar: Supeme court held that application of Section 124A to acts involving intention or tendency to create disorder, or disturbance of law and order, or incitement to violenceTherefore, incitement to violence is the essential ingredient of the offence of sedition.
  • 1995: Balwant Singh V/s State of Punjab: If the Slogans against the nation did not evoke any response from any other person (of Sikh community) or reaction from the people of other communities, raising such casual slogans a couple of times without any other act whatsoever, did not justify prosecution for sedition and Section 124-A could not be invoked.
  • 2003: Nazir Khan V/s State of Delhi: It is fundamental right of every citizen to have his own political theories and ideas and to propagate them and work for their establishment so long as he does not seek to do so by force and violence or contravene any provision of law, and that the mere use of words ‘fight’ & ‘war’ in their pledge did not necessarily mean that the society planned to achieve its object by force and violence.”
  • Shreya Singal vs UOI 2015: mere discussion and advocacy however unpopular it may be, is a genuine exercise of freedom of speech and expression until it reaches the level of incitement that Article 19 (2) can be invoked.
  • Auradha Bhasin vs UOI case 2020: expounded Doctrine of Proportionality while invoking Sec 144 of CrPC. 

Argument Against such restrictions:

  1. Against democratic norms: In a democracy, people have the inalienable right to change the government they do not like. People will display disaffection towards a government which has failed them. The law of sedition which penalizes them for hating a government does not serve them.
  2. Constitutional violation: It violates Article 19(1)(a). Under article 19(2) Sedition as a reasonable restriction was not adopted by the constituent assembly, as it was mentioned in the draft. It clearly shows that the Constitution makers did not consider sedition as a reasonable restriction.
  3. Suppressing criticism: It can be misused to gag press or suppress the criticism of the government.
  4. Draconian nature of law: It is Non-bailable and Non-cognizible.
  5. Moral question: Indians were against this act in colonial era as it was used to jail our freedom fighters. So it should have been automatically stuck down after independence.
  6. Judgments don’t prevent misuse: the Supreme court has held that without incitement to violence or rebellion there is no sedition. However, this has not closed the door on misuse of this law
  7. toxic hyper­nationalism: it is very bad for any country
  8. Freedom of expression:  it curb people’s expression.

WAY FORWARD:  Just celebrating the victory for Muslim team by the muslim or either by any community does not mean that they are not nationals or anti-national. We should not follow hyper-nationalism. India is a diverse country and it is known for it. instead of strict action we should make people more tolerant.

2. In India, the steady subversion of equality; The sharp turns away from democracy seen recently in the country must jolt citizens into stopping the descent

Context: There have been various instances in India where subversion of equality is observed.

  •  A commitment to all being equal as a desired ideal — even if not fully realised in reality — accorded India its sheen and power in the past.
  • According to the author, India now, from being a truly remarkable case of composite nationalism, appears happy to huddle in that corner of the room which many of its neighbours occupy.

Social depreciation of the Idea of Equality : Faith as differentiator:

  • What Constitution promises: Equal rights to all. If any benefit was accorded to smaller groups, religious or linguistic minorities or Dalits, it was in order to achieve substantive equality. This cut across all markers of identity — colour, race, language, faith, caste, region or food.
  • Current scenario: faith seems to have increasingly emerged as a visible differentiator between citizens. It must be recognised that laws — and not just the spirit — are in the process of being rewritten in India.

Examples of Faith as differentiator:

  1. Citizenship amendment act: The basis of citizenship under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019, allowing for non-Muslims from three countries to fast-track their citizenship, was the most serious push to introduce religion into citizenship.
  2. In terms of marital choices: maginary fears of a ‘love-jihad’, the basis for new legislations have meant that inter-faith marriages are seen as crimes unless proven otherwise.
    • The Gujarat law criminalising inter-faith marriages has been called out by the Gujarat HC.
    • The ordinance introduced in Uttar Pradesh (UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020), which is now a law, till July, saw 63 FIRs filed against it, and 80 people arrested among 162 people who were booked, the majority being Muslim.
    • Madhya Pradesh has a similar trajectory, and a differential impact on Muslims.
    • In terms of personal law, only Muslim men divorcing their wives through the triple talaq, now been criminalized by law; not so for men of other faiths.
  3. Food has been criminalised. Stringent laws on cattle end up penalising those who have a certain diet, namely beef. The mood in the country created and abetted by people close to the powers that be, has led to lynchings.
  4. Segragation of communities: consider the Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, popularly known as the Disturbed Areas Act, which circumscribes where one can reside.
  5. Hostile environment: even the informal sector where minorities sought refuge in vocations to battle the prejudices of the formal sector is now curdling, is clear from recent studies on the subject. The linkages between those wielding extraordinary power in high offices with those making vicious noise on social media, and with the violent mobs on the ground trying to shut down Muslim businesses — or attack vegetable sellers or bangle sellers to prevent them to operate — are becoming more explicit by the day.  

Way Forward: Equality is the basis of the Harmony and fraternity. It is the constitutional ideal which is essential for a democratic society.

  • Examples of Rwanda, South Africa or Germany are reminders that the Equality is as much a pragmatic consideration as it is a normative ideal.
  • Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Myanmar prioritised one ethnicity/religion and defined belonging and nationhood in the narrowest sense possible, which has had disastrous consequences. India must not follow the same path.


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