QRant: Why Soli Sorabjee is Angry With ‘Hooligans in Black Robes’
Soli Sorabjee, the former Attorney General of India decided to take on JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar’s bail application. Speaking to The Quint, Sorabjee explains what motivated him to take on the case and why ‘hooligans in black robes’ are making his blood boil. He said to The Quint:
Sedition is defined under section 124A of the IPC, as a serious offence and it carries a sentence life imprisonment and fine. But what is sedition? The Supreme Court has clearly laid down that criticism of a government, pungent remarks about the administration is not sedition. It is sedition, only if the speech or acts incite violence. In other words, if they have a tendency to disturb public order. You can criticize the judgement of the Supreme Court. We’ve done it! You can say the Afzal Guru judgement was wrong, that he didn’t have a fair trail. I don’t agree with it, I think he had a fair trial. A person is allowed to have another view, however wrong it may be, it doesn’t become sedition. The problem is that this section is being used to muzzle dissent and to imprison dissenters, that should never be permitted. The most painful thing for me has been lawyers attacking the accused. If he made seditious speeches, I certainly dislike him but surely he has a right to fair trial. He must be allowed to be represented by his lawyers. Lawyers are not lawyers if they put on black robes, they have acted like hooligans and brought shame to the legal fraternity. The factor which motivated me to take up the case was defending the right of an accused person to have a fair trial, not to be assaulted when he is giving evidence or being taken to court. That would set a very dangerous precedent. So called anti-national, what is anti-national? Any criticism of the government? Anything which is critical of the government? That’s the reason this is a very dangerous trend. I hope the Supreme Court tells these marauding lawyers what sedition is, what patriotism is and what nationalism is. Patriotism is flaunted for their actions, it is a sad justification for their acts. It reminds me of Sir Johnson famous saying, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”.