Sedition decoded Sorabjee Style!

Indian Express reported Mr Soli Sorabjee describing the JNU President’s arrest “deplorable”. It is interesting to read the reasons for his opinion. I found them incongruous.

In the existing scheme of things the presumption is I am wrong (and prejudiced) in not condemning the arrest. I therefore read the comments again but unfortunately(?) it only confirmed my original opinion (which makes me rabidly communal, casteist and unpatriotic?). Please judge for yourself.

Mr Sorabjee said, “What did he do? Did he merely shout slogans like Pakistan zindabad? arresting him for that? I mean thats deplorable”! The “he” incidentally is an Indian citizen, and the comment appears to suggest that it is right for any Indian to shout Pakistan Zindabad and acting against him outrages any sensible Indian’s (like Mr Sorabjee’s) sensibilities. I realised I do not fit the category of a sensible Indian because I cannot shout Pakistan Zindabad nor accept its being shouted in my presence or find any restraint on the shouting “deplorable.”

The comment which follows makes the situation clearer still (or does it?) and fills me with self-loathing. Mr Sorabjee next says “Even if you say Hindustan murdabad its a boderline case since these words have the tendency to create a law and order problem.” Thus even Mr Sorabjee agrees that where there is a tendency to create a law an order problem we may consider making the act criminal; of-course, in his opinion, there will be no law and order problem if you shout Pakistan Zindabad(as it is not a “borderline case” like Hindustan Murdabad but a clearly a non-issue)  – and an acceptable war cry of any Indian! I now realise that apart from not being sensible enough to know there cannot possibly be a law and order problem if Pakistan Zindabad is shouted, I am not patriotic enough to shout it or tolerate its being shouted.

Anyway coming back to Mr Sorabjee. He is sure that Pakistan zindabad is not sedition but he is not sure if Hindustan murdabad is sedition. This creates a piquant situation but only for a stupid, irrational, unwise and unpatriotic a person like me. Please consider the consequences. An Indian (according to Mr Sorabjee) is immune against action if he shouts Pakistan Zindabad but if he shouts Hindustan Murdabad its impropriety needs to be debated. And debate is protected! But if debate is protected how can that which is being debated (Hindustan Murdabad) be the cause of arrest? Arrest thus will be unwarranted in both cases whether you shout Pakistan Zindabad or Hindustan Murdabad! Indians can thus travel the length and breadth of the country either shouting Pakistan Zindabad or Hindustan Murdabad. Here comes the catch. If I protest against either I am liable to be arrested for objecting to legitimate political action. Hence I am not just not sensible or not patriotic but I am a criminal in addition uneducated in basic constitutional values!!

Why then make any distinction between the two? Thats the point. It shows the offence of sedition should not be on the statute book! It is indeed pointless. Pakistan Zindabad Hindustan Murdabad is acceptable political discourse and truly legitimate.

And dare I object. “We should take things”, said Mr Sorabjee, “in the right perspective” and not “overreact”. My reaction to Pakistan Zindabad and Hindustan Murdabad will always be an “overreaction” because I lack the “right perspective” to tolerate it. So my mind-set is bad and my way of looking at things wrong. I am communal, irrational and unpatriotic and need to be punished for such deviance. I am after all an Indian who will never shout Pakistan Zindabad or Hindustan Murdabad.

One thought on “Sedition decoded Sorabjee Style!

  1. The point that you make here is quite straight except for the lucid flow of its sartorial nature dubbed in sarcastic figures of speech.
    Sedition law being the sneeze droplets of a colonial flue, stands now, long repealed in the late 60’s by the British towards their many correctional paths of legal atonement.
    Coming to the Indian perspective,sir, if I may,what kind of interpretation do we want waive in with such an archaic law that instils those in power to be in a ‘nation-state demonic possession’ thus insinuating them with unchecked power and beguiled justifications and investitures of as to who is “nationalist’ or “anti-nationalist’ in the garb of a much bigger antecedent of “you are either with us or against us”??
    Now, any feeling or thought that discerns or obliquely concerns itself with harbouring of anti-nation beckoning is surely condemnable and begs a question as to what lead to it and what can be done to circumvent it but not aggravate to the extent of punitive and legal roulette of a law- of mesozoic era calling for the survival of the fittest( fit is who bears a notional tag on a certain brand of nationalist), while their is no such Darwinian concept in a democracy. In a democracy it the inclusive survival of all- ill fit,misfit,and doomed together with those who appropriately fit.
    Interestingly, though, what seems more uncanny is the very debate of what is or not constitutionally governed freedom of speech? The way I read it during my exams night as a legal epiphany is – Our constitution being the world’s only social document gives diktats to those in the government how to govern those who put them there and by this logic, freedom of any kind enshrined in it is unqualified with the State protecting it and any non-tenancy only gives it rights to broach upon its “reasonable restrictions” as long as our constitutional debt is amortised.

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