The Bombay High Court has rightly asked the Maharashtra government to withdraw its August 27 order on “sedition” that gave special powers to the police to take action against those critical of the government under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code. This was based on a petition by cartoonist Aseem Trivedi who was arrested in 2012 for cartoons that mocked the Indian Constitution during an Anna Hazare rally in Mumbai. While state government officials have been arguing that it is a misinterpretation of a translation from Marathi of the previous government, the crux of the matter is that the state government in this day and age is worried about any opposition from the people. According to the Oxford Dictionary, sedition is to incite or cause people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch.
It’s time the government, both at the Centre and the states, got over these imaginary fears and realised that healthy dissent is an essential element of a functioning democracy. The best way to get people’s support is to work expeditiously to ensure that the said section is scrapped from the IPC, as quickly as possible, rather than try to book them.