New Delhi, October 12
Former Supreme Court docket choose Madan B Lokur on Monday lamented “weaponising” the sedition legislation, including one of many worst types of curtailment of freedom of speech is charging an individual with sedition.
Observing that legislation is being misused to curb free press and speech, the retired choose stated “a deadly cocktail” of use and misuse of legislation is getting used to impression adversely the freedom of all those that dare to talk up.
He stated the legislation is all the time to be interpreted objectively, however of late, subjective satisfaction has taken over and the implications are unpalatable.
The previous apex courtroom choose was particularly crucial of “weaponising” the sedition legislation, “abuse” of prohibitory orders and blanket shutdown of the Web.
Justice Lokur (retd) was delivering the 2020 B G Verghese Memorial Lecture on “Preserving and Defending our Elementary Rights—Freedom of Speech, Expression and the Proper to Protest”, organised by the Media Basis.
The Media Basis offered the 2019 Chameli Devi Jain Award to ladies for excellent journalism.
This 12 months, the award was shared by Arfa Khanum Sherwani of ‘The Wire’ and Rohini Mohan, a Bengaluru-based impartial journalist.
Rukmini S, an impartial data-journalist from Chennai, obtained an “honourable point out.”
In his lecture, Lokur identified that the Supreme Court docket had laid down the sedition legislation clearly and cogently in 1962 itself, but authorities have discovered numerous methods of “weaponising” this legislation.
At a webinar on ‘Freedom of Speech and Judiciary’ final month, Lokur had stated out of the blue there are a whole lot of circumstances the place individuals are charged with sedition. “A standard citizen who says one thing is charged with sedition. Already 70 circumstances of sedition have been seen this 12 months,” he stated.
Lokur was among the many 4 senior apex courtroom judges who held the controversial January 12, 2018 press convention towards the then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra in an unprecedented revolt.
Whereas speaking concerning the new strategies of “silencing speech” in his lecture on Monday, he stated these embody attributing to a speaker one thing she or he by no means stated after which instituting punitive proceedings towards that particular person.
He additionally referred to a number of circumstances, together with that of the preventive detention of Dr Kafeel Khan in Uttar Pradesh, and stated “nearly each process identified to legislation was violated” by the detaining authorities.
Khan was arrested in January this 12 months on the cost of delivering a provocative speech on the Aligarh Muslim College (AMU) through the anti-Citizenship (Modification) Act (CAA) protests. The Allahabad Excessive Court docket ordered his launch on September 1.
Lokur additionally talked concerning the arrest of Pinjra Tod member Devangana Kalita in a Delhi riots case, and stated any citizen “could be arrested on the idea of a fairy story and must undergo a long-drawn course of for being let loose”.
Lokur, who retired in December 2018, alleged that using Part 144 of CrPC to impose prohibitory orders to “maintain the media out of the Hathras gangrape rape space is nothing however an egregious violation of the liberty of the press by means of a weird abuse of legislation.”
He stated the frequent web shutdowns by means of “blanket orders beneath the guise of stopping breach of peace” had been a extremely disproportionate response.
“Elementary proper to free speech is extraordinarily necessary for any civilised democracy,” Lokur stated, including that authorities are obliged to make sure that the legal guidelines are usually not twisted, misused or abused in such a fashion that residents get disadvantaged of their liberties.
He suggested the “institution” to know that “the folks of this nation imply properly and as in any democracy, there are certain to be completely different factors of view”.
“These have to be revered, in any other case, the material of our society would possibly disintegrate…,” he stated. — PTI