As the controversial sedition bill was suspended today and the government was asked by the Supreme Court not to initiate new cases while it reviews colonial rule, one of the petitioners, Major General Sudhir Vombatkere (retired), said he will turn to the court. when the constitution he swore to protect was challenged.
“Every soldier takes an oath to defend the Constitution, they defend the Constitution even at the risk of their own life. And the national borders are defended by the armed forces so that the people of the country can sleep safely and enjoy the freedoms and rights that the constitution. That is why I am taking up this case,” said the general who stopped a 162-year-old colonial relic.
The Supreme Court said no new FIRs should be filed for incitement and that all pending cases will be suspended while the government reconsiders the law. If new cases are filed, the accused can go to court. The government can issue guidelines to states to prevent abuse of the law, the judges said.
“It means immediate relief for hundreds charged with sedition as they can apply for bail and investigations will be suspended,” General Vombatkere said of the impact of the landmark order.
“It’s a preliminary injunction, not a final one. The preliminary injunction was given when the government turned around and said they would review the sedition law. But the judicial investigation of the sedition law will continue,” he said.
The general explained that he took up the case because he believed that an injustice was being done and that it should be fought.
“I had noticed that many things go wrong. I believe that if there is injustice in one place, there is injustice everywhere. Injustices have to be fought, they have to be resisted. I turned to activism because I believe there has been injustice by all governments, state and central, regardless of their political leanings,” said General Vombatkere.
According to him, the whole law should go as it violates Articles 19 1(A), 14 and 21 of the Constitution which deal with the right to equality, freedom of expression and expression and protection of life and personal liberty.
The sedition law, he said, has been invoked for many years, but in recent years more had been indicted than before.
“There are 800 cases and 13,000 are in prison, all citizens of India, my brothers and sisters. Just in the last eight years alone, almost 400 of those 800 cases have been recorded. It has always been used as a political tool, just that it is more in recent years,” said the general.
“The problems are the same – people don’t have real ones (freedom of speech). The incitement law tends to crush that freedom (speech and liberty). That it’s been used more in recent years isn’t the problem. It’s that the freedom is denied.”
He described the Constitution as “the only strategic document for our country” from which all laws and regulations flowed.
“It’s important to protect that document. Even outside my door I’m an Indian. In my house I could be Hindu, Muslim, whatever…”