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Here's A Lesson In Sedition Law And Free Speech From Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee

"No one can take criticism."

02/03/2017 5:29 PM IST | Updated 02/03/2017 5:57 PM IST
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File photo of former Attorney-General of India Soli Sorabjee.

NEW DELHI -- The former chief legal advisor of the Indian government, Soli Sorabjee, has sharply hit out at those confusing free speech with sedition. In an interview with India Today's executive editor Javed Ansari, the former attorney general of India said that criticism of the Indian government--however "vigorous"--did not amount to sedition, unless it was followed by incitement to violence.

He cited a Supreme Court judgement from 1962.

"I don't know why these people are mentioning sedition," said Sorabjee. "This is absolute misuse of sedition laws."

He also added that slogans in favour of Kashmir's "azaadi" (freedom) can also not amount to sedition unless they are followed by statements to throw off the present government, or incite violence.

"Otherwise it is free speech, people can express themselves," he said. "You have to also recognise the freedom of speech and expression."

Sorabjee said that criticism was part of democracy, but because of rising intolerance, no one can take criticism anymore, leading people to "take recourse" in sedition laws.

He also recommended strong action against Bharatiya Janata Party MP Pratap Simha for comparing Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

"I think the MP doesn't deserve to be an MP if he talks like that," said Sorabjee. "Do they just make statements for the sake of publicity, to get attention? Do they not apply their mind at all? I think strong action should be taken against the MP. Is he BJP? BJP authorities should take the necessary action."

Simha had shared a photo comparing Kaur to Ibrahim on Twitter, and later defended himself by claiming it was not a comparison but "only a metaphor".

Watch Sorabjee's interview with India Today below.

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