Cricket is just not a game but a fever of favorism
- Cricketing in India is a matter of pride and losing a match against your counterparts doesn’t become seditious conduct.
- For ‘cheering’ Pakistan in India match, university in Meerut suspends 67 Kashmiri students.
- The students were penalized under section 124A of the Indian Penal Code.
- A court could not have taken cognizance of those charges without an express sanction by the State government under Section 196 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the government seems to have decided to drop charges rather than grant such sanction.
- Sedition in the statutory sense requires a perpetrator who “brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India.” Hatred or contempt of a sports team is simply not covered by this section.
- New Zealand has abolished Sedition & Australia has strengthened its legislation in this regard though sparing it is used.
- Sedition as a crime found its way into the IPC in 1870 as Section 124A. Subsequently it proved a useful tool for a colonial administration to keep order among unrestive natives.
- The first amendment to India’s constitution which imposed restrictions on free speech, Pandit Nehru said: “…Take again Section 124A of the IPC. So far as I am concerned, that particular Section is highly objectionable and obnoxious and it should have no place both for practical and historical reasons — in any body of laws that we might pass. The sooner we get rid of it the better.”
- It is only when the words, written or spoken, etc. which have the pernicious tendency or intention of creating public disorder or disturbance of law and order that the law steps in to prevent such activities in the interest of public order.
- The Supreme Court’s balancing act has, however, been largely ignored by administrators when it comes to enforcement. Every person whose inconvenient view sparks outrage ends up being charged under this section or Sections 153A and 295A. However, most of these prosecutions are withdrawn or fail when faced with strict legal scrutiny from a superior court.
- Many such case have come across in the past, like : Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi’s innocuous cartoons during the Anna agitation, Arundhati Roy and Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s speeches at a Delhi conference in October, 2010, Binayak Sen’s possession of Naxal literature.
- The achievements of cricketers and heros are not a mater to be symbolized but they may bring joy or sorrow and we hold no duty in law to cheer, nor any penalty for jeering.
- India losing a close match is a cricketing tragedy and just that. Those who cheer such an event may lack discretion and taste but their conduct is not seditious.