While the entire debate on the sedition law and the death penalty can be a matter of debate in academia and intellectual circles, the fact that they are in the statute books as of now makes them perfectly liable to be applied as any other statute in the book. Now again the rationale of applying 124A can be debated. But the moot point is that whether these elite institutions , their students, faculties do not have anything more pressing to discuss or to celebrate?
How far can we push the boundary of the ‘ free speech’ guaranteed by our constitution at the same time calling for destruction of the same constitution by professing the destruction of the nation State of which it is the founding document. Now then academics might argue that what is after all the notion of Nation State? We all are global citizens. But these fringe elements did not advocate cosmopolitanism; rather they wanted India’s destruction to create independent Kashmir and support to Pakistan whose creation as nation is still a travesty of our history.
It is true that Britain repealed the Sedition law in 2009 but after centuries of this law being in force and having been used (rightly or wrongly depending on the perspective that one deploys to judge). Every society (country) has a context when certain laws are enacted or repealed.
In India also we had TADA / POTA laws which were passed by the legislature to deal with extra ordinary situation facing the land at a given point of time. Again we can always debate the efficacy and the misuse of such (so called) draconian laws. Lets us not forget the Patriot Act post 9/11 attack on mainland US “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001” which has also been criticized in many quarters.As recently as last year France suspended the Basic rights and imposed emergency during Paris attacks. Even this was criticized by organisations like Amnesty International. But State has a duty to perform in spite of what critiques say.
Who can say with reasonable conviction that what the intelligentsia of the country term as as children’s prank can tomorrow not mutate to a full scale rebellion or lead to a terror attack? I may sound alarmist, but then we are living in extra ordinary times where the menace of global terrorism, fundamentalism, violence is raising its ugly head in many countries and in spite of global efforts continues to threaten the mankind as a whole.
Can these professors not convince these students (at fringe) to give up these dogmas of aspiring Nation state’s destruction and channelize their energy and intellect in more constructive manner to resolve million other equally important issues plaguing the Nation and world in general?
If still we insist on one aspect of constitution to assert our freedom of speech and ideology which eventually cuts the very base on which it is founded, then I am afraid gradually the society will descend to anarchy and history will only judge in future as to who was right or who was wrong? By then it may be too late.