Article 66A: An End to Persecution

By The Editor

         Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

                                                                                                                               ~John F. Kennedy

 The excuse that was used to persecute Indians especially youth on voicing their disagreement has been rightfully removed by the judiciary. Exactly what is considered offensive cannot be left to the moods of the politicians. If hurting someone’s ego is considered illegal under law then probably every citizen of our democracy would end up in jail. The irony of our country is that certain people get away with indecent remarks on women in the parliament and police arrest two innocent girls for expressing disappointment over Mumbai bandh.

 Expressing dissent is an unwritten contract between the governing and governed in a democratic society. In regimes where this is not possible dissent boils into destruction sooner or later. During the congress rule, the clause was added in law books to book people over posting “offensive” content online. Now legal definition of offensive can be molded according to the political needs and that’s what happened when a minister in UP decided to wreak vengeance on a class XI boy by putting him behind bars for spoiling his good name on Facebook. There are ministers in UP who have cases like murder on them and police wouldn’t dare touch them and a school boy cannot speak his mind.

 In schools we were taught about Nehru, Gandhi and other big names in our freedom struggle. That’s just one part of story, as we all know there were millions of nameless ordinary Indians who gave their everything to free this country. There were no internet, Facebook or WhatsApp during those days but the British tried to suppress every single sentence written against them by going after every single writer. The end result, discontent often reached a point of no return and it spilled into streets. The India Against corruption movement that laid the foundation of the damning defeat of Congress can trace its roots to simple Facebook posts, hashtags, pokes and likes.  Not to forget the majority that Narendra Modi in Loksabha and Arvind Kejriwal got in Vidhansabha came from fans and voters who took their support  to social media in order to rally their cause.

 Particularly regional parties and leaders at the state level who are treated as a virtual demigods by their followers, are more susceptible and equipped to abuse their power and Section 66A was one such tool to settle personal scores. The Supreme Court took a momentous decision and at least took a small step towards leveling the playing field in our democracy. Ordinary citizens in our country have few liberties to contend with and if anyone thinks that taking away our right to express displeasure would stifle our voice, they should better take a lesson in Indian history.

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