by Manas Chakrabarti on May 19, 2022, 11:25 am
In his messages to Sysop and Auronet administrators, the Under Secretary mentions anti-national and anti-government activities in Auroville. I find this extremely disturbing, not only because there is no basis provided for this accusation, but also because these are very serious matters that cannot be casually mentioned in an email.
Replying to a question about the definition of anti-national activities, the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Nityanand Rai had this to say in the Lok Sabha: “The word ‘anti-national’ has not been defined in statutes. However, there are criminal legislations and various judicial pronouncements to sternly deal with unlawful and subversive activities, which are detrimental to the unity and integrity of the country”.
Has there been any activity in Auroville, which is “detrimental to the unity and integrity of the country”?
(Interesting side note: The definition of the term “anti-national activity” was inserted in the Constitution during the Emergency in 1976, but was removed by an amendment in 1977.)
As for anti-government activities, what comes closest is Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), also referred to as the “sedition law.” This section of the IPC has been suspended by the Supreme Court just a few days ago.
Anti-government and anti-national activities must not be confused with dissent or expressing difference of opinion. This is what Justice D.Y. Chandrachud of the Supreme Court had to say about dissent:
“The blanket labelling of dissent as anti-national or anti-democratic strikes at the heart of our commitment to protect constitutional values and the promotion of deliberative democracy … Protecting dissent is but a reminder that while a democratically elected government offers us a legitimate tool for development and social coordination, they can never claim a monopoly over the values and identities that define our plural society … Employment of state machinery to curb dissent instils fear and creates a chilling atmosphere on free speech which violates the rule of law and distracts from the constitutional vision of pluralist society.”
The Under Secretary’s message to Auronet administrators also says, “This can be covered under section IPC 201, 153, 186.” Here’s what these sections refer to:
Section 201: Causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender
Section 153: Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot
Section 186: Obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions
I can only hope that these messages were written in haste, without fully understanding the seriousness of the allegations.
Source URL: https://auroville.org.in/blog/manas-chakrabarti/91183
To know more about what happened: https://standforaurovilleunity.com/announcement/may-17th-2022/