Former Supreme Court Justice Madan B Lokur Says Authorities “Militarize” Sedition Laws

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Former judge of the highest court, Madan B Lokur, spoke of new methods to “silence the speech”. (File)

New Delhi:

The law is being misused to curb freedom of the press and of speech, former Supreme Court Justice Madan B Lokur said. He said that “a deadly cocktail of use and abuse of the law” is used to undermine the freedom of all who dare to speak out.

The former trial judge was particularly critical of the “militarization” of sedition laws, the “abuse” of prohibition orders and the general shutdown of the Internet.

Judge Lokur was delivering the 2020 B G Verghese Memorial Lecture on “Preserving and Protecting Our Fundamental Rights – Freedom of Speech, Expression and Right to Protest”, organized by the Media Foundation.

In addition, the Foundation also awarded the Chameli Devi Jain 2019 Prize to Women for Outstanding Journalism.

This year the award was shared by Arfa Khanum Sherwani of “The Wire” and Rohini Mohan, a freelance journalist based in Bengaluru. Rukmini S, a freelance data journalist from Chennai, received an “honorable mention”.

In his lecture, Judge Lokur said: “One of the worst forms of restriction on free speech is to accuse a person of sedition.”

He pointed out that the Supreme Court had established the sedition law clearly and convincingly in 1962 itself, but that the authorities found various ways to “militarize” the sedition laws.

Judge Lokur was among four high profile judges who held the controversial January 12, 2018 press conference against then Indian Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

While talking about the new methods of “silencing the talk”, he said that these include attributing to a speaker something he or she has never said and then instituting a punitive prosecution against him. that person.

He also referred to several cases, including that of the pre-trial detention of Dr Kafeel Khan, and said that “almost all known procedures of the law have been violated” by the detaining authorities.

Kafeel Khan was arrested in January this year for giving a provocative speech at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) during the Anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protests. The Allahabad High Court ordered his release on September 1.

Judge Lokur also spoke about the arrest of Pinjra Tod member Devangana Kalita in a riots case in Delhi, and said that any citizen “can be arrested on the basis of a fairy tale and will have to pass through a long process to be released. “.

He said the law should always be interpreted objectively, but recently subjective satisfaction has taken over and the consequences are unpleasant.

The former trial judge, who retired in December 2018, alleged that the use of Article 144 of the CrPC to ‘prevent the media from gaining access to the gangrap rape area of ​​Hathras’ is nothing but a flagrant violation of press freedom through a bizarre abuse of the law. “

He said the frequent shutdowns of the Internet through “blanket orders under the pretext of preventing a breach of the peace” was a grossly disproportionate response.

“The fundamental right to freedom of expression is extremely important for any civilized democracy,” Judge Lokur said, adding that the authorities are obliged to ensure that laws are not distorted, misused or abused in such a way as to that citizens are deprived of their freedoms.

He advised the “establishment” to understand that “the people of this country are willing and as in any democracy there are bound to be different points of view.”

“These must be respected, otherwise the fabric of our society could disintegrate …” he said.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)

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