Justice Iqbal Ansari, former Chief Justice Patna High Court and presently Chairman Punjab Human Rights Commission, while speaking as Chief Guest at Legal Awareness Programme Series of AIEM on Sedition – Definition, Concept and Framework in the national capital on October 9, said, “In our Constitution greater emphasis has been given to liberty.”

Citing Thomas Jefferson, former US president, as saying: ‘When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny,’ Justice Ansari said: “The essence of democracy is that we agree to disagree.”

On sedition, Justice Ansari said, “The suggestion to introduce sedition in our Constitution was made by Sardar Patel. It did not become part of the Constitution because it was strongly opposed. Sedition became part of Indian Penal Code and it is there till today. Before Independence, when we had no Constitution, we were governed by the Government of India Act. At that point of time key officials used to take oath but there was difference. When we take oath today, the public of India remain in our mind and thoughts.

“But earlier, even the Chief Justice used to take oath that he will remain loyal towards British government. This sedition insists law of loyalty. Sedition demands that one will remain loyal to the government. Its answer can be found in the trial of Mahatma Gandhi where Mahatma had said that nobody can bind me to be loyal to the government. It was correct then and even today. If loyalty was mandatory, there would have been no opposition as opposition means that I may not be loyal to you,” he argued.

Citing historical background of sedition, Justice Ansari said, “There was Privy Council Judgment and Federal Court Judgment. Federal Court said sedition law is unconstitutional but it cannot be struck down. It was read down which means that portion was deleted which was considered to be unconstitutional. In Kedar Nath judgment, the provision laid down for sedition by Federal court was approved which said dissent or any act against the government cannot be sedition unless and until there is intention of violence or an act is against public order.”

Earlier, Prof Khwaja M. Shahid, president All India Educational Movement (AIEM) and former Pro Vice Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad, in his inaugural address, said, “Every law is a part of our societal system and affects our daily life. When I was a student, there was a big debate whether law should reform the society or society should change itself first and then law should come to mend the society. I don’t know whether the jurisprudence of the legal system has resolved this question till date or not. I am thankful to the judiciary that it has taken a serious note of sedition law,” he added.  

Dr Syed Farooq, patron AIEM, and President The Himalaya Wellness Company, in his presidential address, said, be it sedition or any other law, it should not be misused. Law should facilitate peace but in some cases it has done the opposite.

Advocate Abu Bakr Sabbaq, senior advocate Feroz Ghazi and Mr Ashok Arora also addressed the gathering. Vote of Thanks was extended by Mozaffar Ali, General Secretary AIEM. The programme was conducted by advocate Aslam Ahmed.

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