Sedition has been a heavy topic recently. Jan Ki Baat hopes to uncover the logic behind charging a citizen with sedition, an activity that has become far too frequent in the recent decade. Rajdeep Sardesai, the eminent journalist, when asked about the media house’s being complicit in JNU controversy, believes that the journalism has become polarized and agenda-driven. The BJP Spokesperson Shiv Shakti dismissed the proposal that sedition law should be scrapped because of its creation during the colonial era; the USA’s sedition law, Shakti says, came into effect in 1790s and still continues to exist. CPI’s Sitaram Yechury mocked the authorial announcements: Nathuram Godse is a national hero for some and similarly, libertarian intellectuals are anti-nationals for some. A Student leader, however, firmly believes that freedom of speech doesn’t and shouldn’t translate into anti-India sloganeering, something that the JNU students were allegedly engaged with. A young lawyer clarified that the law in question is a slippery slope to walk on as it can be applied to a number of circumstances, many of which may not be seditious at all.

The Indian Penal Code’s Section 124(A) states that a person can be charged with sedition of his/her speech “attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government”. The Law was established during the British rule in India to supress the incidences of free speech that threatened the colonial rulers’ presence. In modern times, this Law has been used in a number of cases: Hardik Patel, JNU student leaders, Kashmiris in Meerut celebrating a cricket win by Pakistan, are some of the recent characters to be charged under the Sedition Act.

Jan Ki Baat hopes to bring the right set of questions to the table. The JNU controversy was the last nail in the coffin: is Kanhaiya Kumar anti-national? Was he leading the crowd in his anti-national campaign? Are the student leader’s actions evidentiary enough to be charged under the sedition law?

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Pradip Bhandari

Pradip Bhandari is the recipient of young leader award 2014 in the largest Indian Model Youth Parliament. He is a public policy graduate who is a Daly College and MIT Manipal alumnus. A believer in “Be the change you want to see”, he wants to give voice to the citizens.

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