Friday, December 31, 2010

India: Sedition decision against Binayak Sen ‘misuse’ of laws

By Amartya Sen, ZNet, Dec 30, 2010

Source: Telegraph India

I am very upset about the court decision in Chhattisgarh about Binayak Sen. It is a huge perversion of our system of justice, and particularly of the laws concerning sedition. It’s not at all clear, to start with, that the thing he has been exactly accused of — of passing letters — has been really proved beyond doubt.


Secondly, even if this were correct, that doesn’t amount to sedition. He hasn’t killed anyone, he hasn’t incited anyone to rise in violent protest or rebellion. In fact, we know that in his writings he has written against the use of violence in political struggle, arguing that this is neither correct, nor is it ultimately successful. So, I think, even if this is the case — that the exact thing he is accused of is exactly what they are saying it is, which is by no means clear — even then the charge of sedition does not stand.


Thirdly, in exercising any kind of judgment, one has to take into account the character of the person. In this case, Binayak Sen is a very dedicated social worker, working extremely hard for the welfare of some of the most neglected people in the world. He has dedicated his life to doing that rather than having the prosperous, successful life of a doctor, and making a lot of money. So his dedication is not in doubt.


To turn the dedicated service of someone who drops everything to serve the cause of neglected people into a story of the seditious use of something — in this case, it appears to be the passing of a letter, when sedition usually takes the form of inciting people to violence or actually committing some violence and asking others to follow, none of which had happened — the whole thing seems a ridiculous use of the laws of democratic India.

This is part of a legal process, and we have to bear in mind that this is only the first step in a state which has been extraordinarily keen in keeping Binayak Sen behind bars.

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