No, Writing a Letter to the PM on Lynchings is NOT Sedition

A letter about lynchings does not satisfy Supreme Court's tests of inciting imminent violence or public disorder.

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The news that a Muzaffarpur court has ordered the police to lodge an FIR against several public figures – including historian Ramachandra Guha and filmmakers like Aparna Sen, Anurag Kashyap and Shyam Benegal – over an open letter they wrote to PM Narendra Modi regarding lynchings, has created a massive controversy.

What makes this seeming violation of the right to free speech even more concerning is that the FIR is under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code: The dreaded offence of sedition.

But how can a letter expressing concern over lynchings and the weaponisation of terms like ‘Jai Shri Ram’ become a criminal offence, and that too, of sedition?

We explain why this runs contrary to the Supreme Court’s own jurisprudence – including in the Kedar Nath case which upheld the constitutionality of sedition which says sedition can only be attracted in a case of incitement to imminent violence or public disorder.

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