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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Time to completely do away with sedition law: SC ex-judge Rohinton Nariman

“It is time to completely do away with sedition laws and allow free speech so long as it does not exhort somebody to violence,” he said.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: January 19, 2022 12:52:59 pm
Justice Rohinton Nariman

Calling for abolishing the law on sedition, former Supreme Court judge Rohinton Nariman has expressed concern on booking critics of the government for sedition.

“It is time to completely do away with sedition laws and allow free speech so long as it does not exhort somebody to violence,” he said.

Addressing an event at inauguration of DM Harish School of Law, Mumbai, on January 14, Justice Nariman said while those exercising free speech were being booked under the stringent sedition law, those giving hate speech are not being dealt with by authorities.

He said: “…you have persons giving hate speech actually calling for a genocide for an entire group, and we find great reluctance from the authorities to book these people. We also unfortunately have higher echelons of the ruling party not only being silent qua hate speech but also almost endorsing it. “We heard the other day from the head of the party a juxtaposition of a Mughal emperor known for being a bigot —Aurangzeb — against Shivaji, who was known to be a secular leader.”

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Referring to Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu’s statement in Thiruvananthapuram that hate speech is unconstitutional, he said it was “heartening to note that — at least a little later.”

After a seven-year term, Justice Nariman retired in August last year as judge of the Supreme Court. Among his key verdicts is the 2015 landmark decision Shreya Singhal versus Union of India, in which the court struck down Section 66A of Information Technology Act, holding that the provision was arbitrary and unconstitutional. The provision was routinely used to book individuals for comments made on social media.

View his full speech here, at the 36 minute mark:

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