Safety Valve: Applicable To Democratic Dissent, Not Violent Subversion

Prof. Rajvir Sharma12

The protests by the Opposition and the lawyer activists’ arguments in the court at the arrest of five Maoist activists by the police on the ground of being involved in activities aiming against the society and the country raises several questions including the question whether freedom of speech and expression can be used by any person including the self-proclaimed or real ‘eminent’ as a shield for their unlawful and anti-national actions. Do the writings or speeches not have the potential for tearing apart the democratic fabric of our country?

The second question is for the judiciary to examine whether right to freedom of speech and expression can be read and enforced in part and not in its totality. The judiciary should revisit the entire content and intent of Article 19 which places certain important limitations determining the ambit and the scope of the right to freedom.

Among the grounds on which the fetters under Article 19 can be enforced by the state to restrict the right to freedom of speech and expression, sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, incitement to an offence, public order, decency or morality among others top the list. It is here that the court must take an integral view of Article 19.


Further, the court should not  entertain the argument that all those arrested are the well known high profile activists and defenders of human rights of the poor as our constitution establishes equality before law implying that law shall treat everyone equally the status, position or power notwithstanding. So merely, if for a moment one agrees to the defence lawyer that they all are very eminent persons, because they are recognized campaigners, law should not take its own course.

Democracy and constitutionalism shall be the first victim if such mentality or ideology is allowed attention of the courts to decide a case.


It is no denying that dissent and legitimate criticism of the policies of the government is the safety valve of democracy,  should it not be questioned if libelous or anti state activities are carried out under the cover of freedom or dissent. What will remain of democracy if the hate campaign against its institutions and constitutional authorities becomes a consistent feature of the critics/dissenters with the intention of destabilizing the society and the government?

It is these ‘eminent writers, authors, academics and social activists’ who provide over ground support to the terrorists and Naxals/Maoists engaged in the killings of innocent citizens and wreck the constitutional system of governance. It is an open secret that there is a concerted movement on the part of the so called eminent academics/activist to identify, organize and mobilize a vulnerable tribal group to take to arms or violence in the name of fighting for their cause.

Incite one caste against the other all in the name of Dalit cause or what is fashionably called a fight against injustice. This small group of tribals is instigated to join ranks of the outlaws or the unlawful. The falling popular support for the Naxals in different parts of the country is a matter of concern for the underground groups and for the urban Naxals as well.

So they either as researchers, human rights activists, eminent ideologues incite or muster support for the stone pelters, gun weilders,extortionists and those trying to create unrest, social chasms, mutual caste bitterness or incite minority communities to fight with the majority community and unfortunately all in the name of equality and freedom without even a shred of concern that such subversive actions would destroy democratic structures and democratic values.

In fact the time has come to unmask of these Naxalites operating under different names in the universities, the research institutions, the terror funding NGOs and the like institutions.

Let us not ignore the fact that the architecture of violent overthrow of the state and the system of government is prepared not in the field but in the minds of such hidden behind the scene eminents sitting, thinking and guiding the operatives of their designs from the jungles and fields. No liberal worth the name shall ever protect anyone preaching, propagating or conducting or preparing to wage a war against the state.

The history of the Communists is replete with any number of examples when they exploited the conditions of poverty or discrimination to overthrow the system to establish maoist regime. Bur history is also a witness that they use power thereafter not to remove poverty or discrimination from the society, but to entrench them into power. The CPM ruled West Bengal for about three decades.

Did they remove poverty or provide any tangible relief to the poor to live better with his head held high at any time. The party in power in Kerala is doing nothing but spreading terror and fear among the poor and the Dalit in specific and the general public by state sponsored, if one can say so, killings of their opponents belonging to the RSS and to the BJP.

The social activists turned politicians like Jignesh Mewani incited the mob violence in the name of raising the voice of the Dalits. So is true of activists like Hardik Patel. To peaceful demonstration or any other constitutional method of dissent or resentment on any issue, no one would have any objection, but destroying life and property in the name of democratic right to dissent should be a matter of concern for each and every organ of the state as well as of every member of the peace loving, civilized society.

See again another true copy in Mamata Banerjee who came to power on the promise of relieving the poor from the pain and misery they suffer from. What she has done thereafter is merely dividing the Bengali society on the basis of religion and getting her opponents killed. It is shocking that it is these very people  who are crying foul when the state takes lawful action against some identified urban Naxals and the opposition unitedly joins together to defend them inside and outside the courts.

The opposition in its haste to grab power and in its blind hatred against the Prime Minister as a person is doing such a harm to the cause of the nation and of the people that the posterity may not be able to forgive them. It is only their enemy like politics that is encouraging the anti India forces inside and outside the country to weaken India so that she may never claim the dignity and honour it is achieving among both her competitors and friends globally. Some foreign countries zealous of India’s economic and military strength would also encourage forces like the urban Naxals to block India from marching ahead or to enact a coup against the state.

Shall or should India defend such conspiracies when these activists are even involved in instigating or hatching a plot to kill the Prime Minister? A word of advice, if they care, for the opposition: do not fall prey to politics of dividing India and her people; look beyond petty immediate political gains if at all you can get to yourself. Keep the nation first.

(The writer is a senior political scientist)

Add comment

Security code