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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

Monthly DNA

04 Mar, 2021

43 Min Read

Sedition in India

GS-II : Governance Rights issue

Sedition in India

How is sedition defined under the law?

  • Sedition, which falls under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, is defined as any action that brings or attempts to bring hatred or contempt towards the government of India and has been illegal in India since 1870.
  • It defines sedition as an offence committed when "any person by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India".
  • Disaffection includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity. However, comments without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, will not constitute an offence under this section.

History of Sedition

  • Sedition laws were enacted in 17th century England when lawmakers believed that only good opinions of the government should survive, as bad opinions were detrimental to the government and monarchy.
  • The law was originally drafted in 1837 by Thomas Macaulay, the British historian-politician, but was inexplicably omitted when the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was enacted in 1860.
  • Section 124A was inserted in 1870 by an amendment introduced by Sir James Stephen when it felt the need for a specific section to deal with the offence.

Impact of Sedition

  • Sedition is a non-bailable offence. Punishment under Section 124A ranges from imprisonment up to three years to a life term, to which a fine may be added.
  • A person charged under this law is barred from a government job.
  • They have to live without their passport and must produce themselves in court at all times as and when required.

Sedition data

  • NCRB, starting in 2017, introduced a new category of crime: incidents of violence by “anti-national elements". These anti-national elements - bucketed into four groups: north-east insurgents, ‘Jihadi’ terrorists and Naxalites and other terrorists - had 1,012 cases registered against them in 2018.
  • In 2019, 9% of the sedition cases pending from previous years and filed in 2019 resulted in a closure because the accused were untraceable.
  • Charge sheets were filed in only 17% of the cases.
  • The conviction rate in such cases in 2019 was only 3.3%.
  • That our government 2014 has been misusing this law is evident from the fact that 96% of sedition cases against 405 persons for criticising politicians and governments were registered after 2014.
  • Since then, there has been a 28% spurt over previous years in the number of sedition cases filed.
  • Around 65% of the 10,938 individuals accused of sedition since 2010 have been implicated during the present regime.
  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s report, Crime in India, 93 cases of sedition were filed in 2019, which is a 165% jump from 35 in 2016. The state of Uttar Pradesh seems to be the most enthusiastic in this regard.
  • Around 77% of the 195 sedition cases since 2010 were registered in the last four years since Yogi Adityanath became chief minister. More than half of these cases targeted those who protested against the Citizen (Amendment) Act, of 2019.
  • The authoritarian streak of the present regime is apparent from the indiscriminate use of the law of sedition to shackle guaranteed fundamental freedoms without reasonable cause.
  • This is reflected in India slipping from the 27th position in 2014 to the 53rd in 2020 in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index global ranking. In terms of press freedom too, India is ranked 142 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index 2020.

Major Supreme Court Decisions on Sedition Law:

1) Brij Bhushan vs the State of Delhi and Romesh Thappar vs the State of Madras.

  • The SC highlighted debates over sedition in 1950 in its decisions in Brij Bhushan vs the State of Delhi and Romesh Thappar vs the State of Madras.
  • In these cases, the court held that a law which restricted speech on the ground that it would disturb public order was unconstitutional.
  • It also held that disturbing the public order will mean nothing less than endangering the foundations of the State or threatening its overthrow.
  • Thus, these decisions prompted the First Constitution Amendment, where Article 19 (2) was rewritten to replace “undermining the security of the State” with “in the interest of public order”.

2) Kedar Nath Singh vs the State of Bihar

  • In 1962, the SC decided on the constitutionality of Section 124A in Kedar Nath Singh vs the State of Bihar.
  • It upheld the constitutionality of sedition, but limited its application to “acts involving intention or tendency to create disorder, or disturbance of law and order, or incitement to violence”.
  • It distinguished these from “very strong speech” or the use of “vigorous words” strongly critical of the government.

3) In 1995, the SC, in Balwant Singh vs the State of Punjab, held that mere sloganeering which evoked no public response did not amount to sedition.

4) Recent news: Farooq Abdullah

  • Voicing dissent against the government does not amount to sedition, the Supreme Court said while rejecting a plea to “terminate” the Lok Sabha membership of National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and book him for sedition.

Why is there less conviction in Sedition cases in India?

  • One reason for this could be that sedition as an offence has no solid legal grounding in India. The Indian Constitution lays out freedom of expression as a fundamental right which many legal scholars have argued prevents sedition from being an offence.

About Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and its comparison with Sedition law

  • In 1967, the government enacted the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). This was meant to be a more specific law intended to impose more reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India.
  • In 2018, there were 1,182 cases registered under UAPA. And almost all of these cases (92%) were concentrated in five states (Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Jharkhand and Manipur).
  • Because of its use to clamp down on dissent, the UAPA has faced similar criticisms as the sedition law.
  • And the joint existence of a sedition offence and the UAPA governing the same category of offence makes little sense.
  • UAPA and sedition though are just two of the many offences that can be committed against the state.
  • Under the NCRB’s breakdown of offences against the state, the biggest offence comes under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. The Act, which lays down the law about damage to public property, accounted for more than 80% of all offences against the state in 2018 and has increased since 2016.

Arguments in Support of Section 124A:

  1. Section 124A of the IPC has its utility in combating anti-national, secessionist and terrorist elements.
  2. It protects the elected government from attempts to overthrow the government with violence and illegal means. The continued existence of the government established by law is an essential condition of the stability of the State.
  3. If contempt of court invites penal action, contempt of government should also attract punishment.
  4. Many districts in different states face a maoist insurgency and rebel groups virtually run a parallel administration. These groups openly advocate the overthrow of the state government by revolution.
  5. Against this backdrop, the abolition of Section 124A would be ill-advised merely because it has been wrongly invoked in some highly publicized cases.

Arguments against Section 124A:

  1. Section 124A is a relic of colonial legacy and unsuited in a democracy. It is a constraint on the legitimate exercise of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression.
  2. Dissent and criticism of the government are essential ingredients of robust public debate in a vibrant democracy. They should not be constructed as sedition.
  3. Right to question, criticize and change rulers is very fundamental to the idea of democracy.
  4. The British, who introduced sedition to oppress Indians, have themselves abolished the law in their country.
  5. The terms used under Section 124A like 'disaffection' are vague and subject to different interpretations to the whims and fancies of the investigating officers.
  6. IPC and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 2019 have provisions that penalize "disrupting the public order" or "overthrowing the government with violence and illegal means". These are sufficient for protecting national integrity. There is no need for Section 124A.
  7. The sedition law is being misused as a tool to persecute political dissent. A wide and concentrated executive discretion is inbuilt into it which permits the blatant abuse.
  8. In 1979, India ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which sets forth internationally recognized standards for the protection of freedom of expression. However, misuse of sedition and arbitrary slapping of charges are inconsistent with India's international commitments.

Way Forward

  • India is the largest democracy of the world and the right to free speech and expression is an essential ingredient of democracy.
  • Section 124A should not be misused as a tool to curb free speech. The SC caveat, given in Kedar Nath case, on prosecution under the law can check its misuse.
  • The definition of sedition should be narrowed down, to include only the issues pertaining to the territorial integrity of India as well as the sovereignty of the country.
  • The word ‘sedition’ is extremely nuanced and needs to be applied with caution. It is like a cannon that ought not to be used to shoot a mouse; but the arsenal also demands possession of cannons, mostly as a deterrent, and on occasion for shooting.

Source: TH

Marital rape-Rape and Marriage

GS-II : Governance Rights based issues

Marital rape-Rape and Marriage

Introduction

  • Requirements in a relationship: A relationship between two individuals, including marriage, is built around love, respect, trust and consent.
  • Within that civilised framework, a violent and exploitative act like rape has no place.

Recent SC stance on rape and marriage

  • Seen in that context, the Supreme Court’s latest query to a Maharashtra government employee asking whether he would marry a girl he was accused of raping repeatedly while she was a minor is insensitive to the core.
  • By offering marriage as a solution to a rape victim, the judiciary failed to protect the rights of a girl.
  • Instead of meting out harsh punishment, the Court asked the lawyer representing the accused to find out whether his client would be willing to marry the victim or risk going to jail.

This can lead to an act of misogyny

  • Equal rights activists have always worked hard against misogyny, patriarchal mindsets and other failings such as blaming the victim for the rape.
  • This arduous battle for equality becomes even more difficult when people in high offices make offensive remarks.

Supreme court on marital rape

  • In another case, the Bench stayed the arrest of a man accused of rape after falsely promising marriage. The victim said she was promised marriage and was “brutally and sexually abused”.
    • The CJI asked the girl’s lawyer: “When two people are living as husband and wife, however brutal the husband is, can you call sexual intercourse between them ‘rape’?”
    • In both cases, these crimes attract severe penalties under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.

Justice J.S. Verma Committee on marital rape

    • On marital rape, though the recommendation was not included in the Act, the Justice J.S. Verma Committee was clear the law ought to specify that a marital or another relationship between the perpetrator and victim cannot be a defence against sexual violation.

C.R. vs U.K case

    • Citing the judgment of the European Commission of Human Rights in C.R. vs the U.K., it endorsed the conclusion that “a rapist remains a rapist regardless of his relationship with the victim”.

Shimbhu & Anr vs State of Haryana (2013)

    • In Shimbhu & Anr vs State of Haryana (2013), the Supreme Court said the offer of a rapist to marry the victim cannot be used to reduce the sentence prescribed by law.

Conclusion

    • The law should deliver justice, not blatantly tilt the scales against women’s rights.

Source: TH

India is partly free: US Think Tank

GS-II : Important reports Important reports

India is partly free: the US Think Tank

  • Freedoms in India have reduced, according to a report from a U.S. think tank, Freedom House, resulting in India being classified as ‘partly free.
  • India’s score was 67, a drop from 71/100 last year (reflecting 2019 data) downgrading it from the free category last year (based on 2020 data).
  • “The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its State-level allies continued to crack down on critics during the year…,” the report “Freedom in the World 2021: Democracy under Siege,” said. “The ruling Hindu nationalist movement also encouraged the scapegoating of Muslims, who were disproportionately blamed for the spread of the virus ...,” it said.
  • “Rather than serving as a champion of democratic practice and a counterweight to authoritarian influence from countries such as China, Mr. Modi and his party are tragically driving India itself toward authoritarianism.
  • “The private media are vigorous and diverse, and investigations and scrutiny of politicians do occur. However, attacks on press freedom have escalated dramatically under the Modi government, and reporting has become significantly less ambitious in recent years,” the report said, citing the use of security, defamation, sedition and contempt of court laws to quiet critical media voices.
  • “Separately, revelations of close relationships between politicians, business executives and lobbyists on one hand and leading media personalities and owners of media outlets, on the other, have dented public confidence in the press,” the report said.
  • On the U.S., the Freedom House said the risky state of American democracy was on display during the January 6 attack on the Capitol. It listed what it called the Trump presidency’s “ unprecedented attacks” on American democracy (examples included dismissing inspectors general to sowing mistrust over the electoral system). The U.S. dropped three points over one year, down to 83/100.
  • “ …The United States will need to work vigorously to strengthen its institutional safeguards, restore its civic norms and uphold the promise of its core principles for all segments of society if it is to protect its venerable democracy and regain global credibility.”
  • China, classified as ‘not free, dropped a point from last year going down to 9/100.
  • “The malign influence of the regime in China, the world’s most populous dictatorship, was especially profound in 2020,” the report says citing Beijing’s disinformation and censorship campaign following the outbreak of COVID-19.

Source: TH

Gross Domestic Product vs Gross Value Added

GS-III : Economic Issues GDP/GNP

Gross Domestic Product vs Gross Value Added

Gross Domestic Product

  • Gross domestic product (GDP) is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period.
  • GDP includes all private and public consumption, government outlays, investments, private inventories, paid-in construction costs and the foreign balance of trade (exports are added, imports are subtracted)
  • Thus the components of GDP are Consumption (C) plus Investment (I) plus Government Spending (G) plus BOP i.e. Exports minus Imports (X-M)
  • GDP is calculated using this standard formula: C + I + G + (X-M).
  • GDP is commonly used as an indicator of the economic health of a country, as well as to determine a country’s standard of living
  • Since the mode of measuring GDP is uniform from country to country, GDP can be used to compare the productivity of various countries

Gross Value Added

  • The term that is used to denote the net contribution made by a firm is called its value-added
  • The raw materials that a firm buys from another firm which are completely used up in the process of production are called ‘intermediate goods’.
  • Therefore the value added of a firm is, the value of production of the firm – the value of intermediate goods used by the firm.
  • Gross value added (GVA) is defined as the value of output less the value of intermediate consumption.
  • When the value of taxes on products (less subsidies on products) is added, the sum of value added for all resident units gives the value of gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Thus, Gross value added (GVA) = GDP + subsidies on products – taxes on products

GDP vs. GVA

  • Gross value added (GVA) is the value addition done to a product resulting in the production of final product whereas Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the total value of products produced in the country.
  • While GDP gives a picture of the whole economy, GVA gives pictures at enterprises, government and households levels.
  • In other words, GDP is the GVA of all enterprises, governments and households.

Source: AspireIAS Notes

West Container Terminal to be Constructed Jointly by India-SL-Japan

GS-II : International Relations Sri Lanka

West Container Terminal to be Constructed Jointly by India-SL-Japan

  • The Sri Lankan Cabinet has approved a proposal to develop Colombo Port’s West Container Terminal(WCT) under a joint venture with India and Japan.

Note: This proposal comes after Sri Lanka pulled out of the 2019 tripartite agreement with India and Japan to develop the East Container Terminal (ECT).

About the West Container Terminal(WCT) Project:

  • Location: The West Container Terminal(WCT) is strategically located next to a Chinese-run Colombo International Container Terminal(CICT).
  • Model: The terminal will be developed on a Build, Operate and Transfer(BOT) model for a period of 35 years.
  • Investors: For the project, Sri Lanka has asked India and Japan to nominate the investors. But neither India nor Japan has officially commented on the offer.
    • Earlier, India had approved Adani Ports to invest in the ECT project. However, Japan is yet to name an investor.
  • Stakes in WCT: India and Japan will have an 85% stake in the West Container Terminal.
  • It is similar to the terms set for the Colombo International Container Terminal(CICT) where China holds an 85% stake.
  • Moreover, India and Japan's stake in the WCT is better than the earlier deal on the ECT – where they had a 49% stake.

Source: TH

Political & Humanitarian Crisis in Ethiopia- Important Relevant Facts

GS-II : International Relations African Countries

Political & Humanitarian Crisis in Ethiopia- Important Relevant Facts

  • It is a landlocked country.

  • The Horn of Africa houses the countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.

  • The Tigray people make up roughly 6% of the population, while the Oromos have a 34% share and the Amharas 27%.

  • The Oromos have alleged marginalisation and called for better representation.

India-Ethiopia Relations

  • Ethiopia is one of the largest recipients of long term concessional credit from India in Africa.
  • Lines of Credit worth more than USD1 billion have been sanctioned to Ethiopia for sectors such as rural electrification, sugar industry and railways.
  • Tele-Education and Tele-Medicine services under the Pan Africa e-Network Project were launched in Addis Ababa in July 2007.
  • Bilateral trade between Ethiopia and India stood at USD 1.28 billion in 2018-19, out of which Indian exports to Ethiopia were USD 1.23 billion and imports were USD 55.01 million.

Source: TH

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