A case of no case: on sedition case against Aisha Sultana

The trend of imputing seditious design to criticism of the government is disturbing

Yet, the very institution of the case is questionable. It is disconcerting that courts are repeatedly called upon to reiterate that strong speech or writing against government policy is not enough to book someone for sedition, and that only incitement to violence or an inclination to cause public disorder amounts to such an offence. The court considered the political context in which the vehement criticism of the administration has come about. There is much debate about the administrative changes introduced by the Administrator, Praful Khoda Patel, since he assumed office last December. The context, indeed, was the criticism of the modified operating procedure, under which the mandatory provision for quarantining visitors to Lakshadweep was given up. Many attribute the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases to this modification. Another Bench of the High Court has stayed the administration’s order to close down dairy farms run by the Animal Husbandry Department and remove meat from the menu for school mid-day meals. When controversial orders are made, they do have a propensity to attract vehement protests and strident criticism. Unfortunately, the tendency to accuse critics and detractors of having a design to provoke disaffection against the government is spreading among authorities across the country. It is clear the problem lies in the continuance of questionable provisions such as the one on sedition on the statute book.

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