Typing Test


While as a former student of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), I will like the present crisis engulfing the university to end as soon as possible. I, at the same time, will not like to hype it as a life and death issue of India and its democratic features. In a way, the Supreme Court of India also made the same point on Friday while declining to hear the bail plea of the arrested JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar's bail-plea. It told Kumar's formidable lawyers – team led by Soli J Sorabjee: "You are leading a dangerous proposition. If this court will entertain it, it will become a precedent which will be available to all the accused in the country. Wherever there will be sensitive cases involving political persons or prominent persons or others...you know the atmosphere in the court. So in every case if it is said that Supreme Court is only the court, it would be a dangerous precedent." But what struck me more was that the Supreme Court also told Kanhya's lawyers: "Remember, this is not the only case of this type." What the apex court seems to have suggested is that there are innumerable cases of alleged highhandedness by Police in charge-sheeting people in the country and these charges are either accepted for prosecution or dismissed outrightly by the appropriate courts in a normal legal course. If charges against Kanhaiya are absurd, they will be rejected and he will be set free by the appropriate court. Of course, Kanhaiya, like everybody, can take a bail during the course of prosecution from a superior court, in this case the High Court of Delhi. But he cannot shortcut his path and straight reach the Supreme Court as if he is a special person and more equal than others. But then the unfortunate fact is that Kanhaiya, though it is not his fault at all, has been made a special person by the politicians and activists, particularly those who are intolerant of the government led by Narendra Modi, by exploiting the hurt feelings of the JNU students and teachers. In fact, the crisis, as I am going to argue, has more political than legal overtones. Ironically, some of those who had knocked at the door of the Supreme Court to do a favour to their cause through Kanhaiya have been at the forefront in demonising the same Supreme Court for its refusal to save the lives of terrorists Afzal Guru and Yakub Menon; they had branded the hanging of those two as "judicial murder". In my considered opinion, the JNU crisis throws once again (this means that this question is neither unprecedented nor unique) whether or not citizens in a democratic country like ours should have absolute right or freedom of expression and thought. On one hand, we have those who say that in a democracy that India is, freedom of expression and thought is absolute, and hence the government cannot intervene just because Kanhaiya or some other JNUites in a meeting called for the independence of Kashmir and the breaking of India into parts. In fact, they say that in a democratic India, British-made anti-sedition laws (under which Kanhaiya has been charged) must be done away with. On the other hand, there are those who say that no rights, even if they are fundamental rights, can be absolute, particularly when it involves the nation's unity and integrity. Nowhere in the world (I am not talking of the countries like China, Russia, Arab Sheikhdoms, Iran and Pakistan) does one find absolute rights. Even in his article on Friday in the Times of India, none other than Kanhaiya's lawyer Sorabjee has said that sedition law should remain in our constitution. His point, and many will share that, is that it is an extreme law and therefore should be applied in rarest of rare cases; it should not apply to those speeches that do not incite violence. But at the same time, he also says, "If, and I repeat if, a person has said Hindustan murdabad, that the state is tyrannical and it is better to do away with it, necessary to overthrow it, that would constitute sedition". And her