A former Supreme Court justice has said that celebrating a Pakistani cricket victory over India is “certainly not sedition and it is ridiculous to think so”.
Judge Deepak Gupta said the tweet from the Office of the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh stating that Kashmiri students in Agra who celebrated Pakistan’s World Cup victory over India would be charged with sedition is “a tweet against the law of the land ”. More importantly, he added, the tweet “is not a responsible statement, it is an irresponsible statement”.
In an 18-minute interview with Karan Thapar for The CableJudge Gupta went further, saying that celebrating a Pakistani victory over India may be offensive or reckless “but it is not a crime, it is not illegal”. As he explained, “A thing can be good or bad, but that does not make it a crime or an illegality.”
He added: “Not all legal actions are necessarily good or moral”, then stressed “we are governed by a rule of law and not a rule of morality”.
In The Cable interview, Judge Gupta also clarified that none of the other three charges against Kashmiri students in Agra applied. They were also charged with section 153A, incitement to hostility on religious grounds, section 505 (1) (b), statements likely to incite others to commit an offense against the state or public tranquility, and article 66F of the computer law which is a punishment for cyberterrorism.
Speaking in detail on the sedition charge, Judge Gupta said if the Chief Minister or his office had reviewed previous Supreme Court judgments on sedition, they would have known what Kashmiri students in Agra have done is certainly not sedition. Therefore, the tweet from the Chief Minister’s office that these students will be charged with sedition is based on ignorance of the law.
– Office of Yogi Adityanath (@myogioffice) 28 October 2021
Judge Gupta said: “Sedition has no place in a civilized democracy”. He said his preference – which he also expressed in an interview with Thread in March 2021 – is that the law on sedition be immediately abolished. However, if that does not happen, he added: “The time has come for the Supreme Court to step in and unequivocally determine whether the law is valid or not and whether it is valid to spell out what its limits are and what guidelines. must be followed.
Judge Gupta added that he hopes the Supreme Court will do so “as soon as possible”. He also said: “I expect the court to do this as soon as possible”.
Speaking about each of the other three charges against Kashmiri students in Agra, Judge Gupta explained why they did not apply. First, regarding Section 153A, which deals with the promotion of enmity on religious grounds, he said, “How does (their alleged celebration) promote enmity?… Just because” do they belong to a particular religion? Did they say something against Hinduism?
Responding to the fact that Agra students are also charged under section 505 (1) (b), which involves making statements that may incite others to commit an offense against the state or the public tranquility, Judge Gupta said, “They celebrated without inciting anyone to commit an offense. He added that if someone is provoked, it is that person’s responsibility and it cannot be blamed on the students.
Finally, referring to the third charge facing the students of Agra, Article 66F of the Computer Law, which punishes cyberterrorism, Judge Gupta said: “How does cyberterrorism enter? it at stake? He pointed out that the students were celebrating. They haven’t tweeted or used social media. In fact, Judge Gupta also pointed out that college authorities said that no slogan had been uttered.
It is important to note that Judge Gupta was speaking specifically of the Kashmiri students in Agra about which the UP chief minister’s office tweeted. He said he was not talking about any celebration of Pakistan’s victory that might have taken place in Jammu and Kashmir.
Watch the full interview here.