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Former Delhi CJ warns against anti-national, sedition charges to hammer free voice

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A P Shah

New Delhi, April 20: Former chief justice of Delhi High Court A P Shah on Wednesday widely spoke against forces that are trying to “instill a feeling within one of a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism.” 

Shah was delivering a lecture on ‘free speech, nationalism and sedition’ for M N Roy memorial lecture. He questioned the government’s “acceptable view” of “nationalism” that forced one to “stand for the national anthem at a movie theatre.” He spoke against rising cult of nationalism where anyone holding a view different from the dubbed is termed as “anti-national” today.

He said nationalism is not prescribing what you can eat, see, and speak. Speaking for M N Roy memorial lecture, Shah paralleled the current discourse on “nationalism” with what eminent thinker and nationalist M N Roy said in 1942, “A parochial, selfish, narrow minded nationalism has caused so much misfortune and misery to the world. A mad and exaggerated form of this cult of nationalism is today running rampant.”

Shah said, “Unfortunately, our institutions of learning are under attack today and there is a concerted attempt to destroy any independent thought. Today, sadly, in this country I love, if anyone holds a view that is different from the government’s acceptable view, they are immediately dubbed as anti-national or desh-drohi.”

He further said the title of “anti-national” is being used to beat the voices of dissent and criticism, followed by slapping criminal charges of sedition.

Disagreeing with Supreme Court’s order regarding national anthem and said, “It is important to remember that the right to free speech and expression also includes the right not to speak or express ourselves. However, under the guise of law, the court has now stepped in and restricted our fundamental rights.”

Justice Shah cautioned against the perils of such muzzling up at university campuses and said, “We have a 21-year-old university student who is subject to severe online hate, abuse and threats only because she dared express her views.”

Shah informed the audience that his maternal grandfather was president of the Hindu Mahasabha in the 1940s and questioned RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s call for bringing up a national law against cow slaughter. “We must be wary of forcing a single ideology or way of living on the entire country, especially a country as diverse as India, where states such as Kerala, or the various states in the north-east, consider beef a staple part of their diet.”

Taking on to crackdown on slaughter houses in Uttar Pradesh, Shah said targeted action at Muslim butchers is not only bringing a havoc of fear to lakhs of people but it is also risking the stable employment of these people.

The other eminent personalities present were Law Commission chairman Justice B S Chauhan, third senior-most judge of the SC Justice J Chelameswar and other former and sitting judges of the apex court.

Justice Chelameswar related with Shah’s views and noted that bound by his constitutional obligation, he could not enjoy the same freedom of speech as Shah.

“In a democracy, freedom of speech rings hollow if the government cannot ensure the same,” said the chairman of the 20th Law Commission. He said it’s time to change the draconian Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code which deals with sedition.

Wefornews Bureau

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Sukma: CRPF personnel killed in Naxal encounter

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Sukma, April 21: A Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel lost his life in an encounter with Naxals near Kistaram camp in insurgency-hit Sukma district of Chhattisgarh on late Friday.

The gunfight erupted when troops of 212 battalion of CRPF, 208 CoBRA, along with Chhattisgarh police were carrying out a cordon and search operation last night.

The deceased was a native of Madhya Pradesh.

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Raipur: 7-year-old sexually assaulted in school

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rape-minor girl

Chhattisgarh, April 21: In yet another case of crime against minors, a seven-year-old girl was allegedly sexually assaulted at Raipur School.

Speaking to ANI, Victim’s father said “It was her first day to the school on Wednesday. She went to the school and we wanted to meet her at the school, but we weren’t allowed to do so. While changing her clothes after she returned from school, my wife noticed blood on her private parts and she was not wearing undergarments.”

On being asked if she had reported about the incident to the teacher, the minor replied that the teacher was absent on the second day of her school.

Meanwhile, the police said that they were investigating the matter and were examining CCTV footages of the school. An FIR was lodged for the same.

The president of Child Right Commission, Prabha Dubey, said “I have spoken to the girl personally. She is saying that a ‘bhaiya’ had allegedly molested her. We asked the peon of the school about the undergarment, to which she replied that she had thrown away the undergarment since the girl had urinated on it. I will constitute a team to investigate the matter.”

In the wake of recent Unnao, Surat Kathua rape cases, Indian social media has been abuzz with the words – “rape horror”.

Massive countrywide protests are being held demanding death penalty for those accused of raping minors.

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Accused in fake facebook post on Manohar Parrikar’s health, gets bail

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Manohar Parrikar
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar (File Photo)

Panaji, April 20: A city Judicial Magistrate First Class(JMFC) court on Friday granted bail to Kenneth Silveira, who was arrested by Crime Branch of Goa for posting fake information about Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s “death” on Facebook.

He was released on a personal bond of ₹10,000, reported The Hindu.

In a related development, members of civil society staged a protest outside the Goa Police headquarters here on Friday morning condemning the arrest.

Kenneth, 35, was arrested by the Crime Branch on Wednesday, a day after he put up the post on social media, on a complaint by a BJP office-bearer.

Parrikar is undergoing treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer in the US.

On Friday, a few dozen protesters rallied at the police headquarters and accused police of trying to “muzzle” free speech.

The Opposition has also criticised the police for the arrest of Silveira, who contested the 2017 by-poll in Panaji but lost to Parrikar.

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