Having sent home the message that provocative speeches could land one in trouble, the home ministry has decided against registering cases against writer Arundhati Roy and hardline Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani for their speeches at a seminar in Delhi last week.
The decision to ignore the speeches was taken to avoid giving a handle to separatists and civil liberties activists, who were expected to rally around Roy to support freedom of expression.
Law minister M. Veerappa Moily had earlier advised against any hasty action when he said he was disappointed with Roy’s speech but the Centre would take decisions affecting freedom to expression very cautiously.
The home ministry had asked Delhi police to examine Roy and Geelani’s speeches to ascertain if they had violated any law after the BJP accused the government of looking the other way. Legal opinion obtained by police indicated the speeches were seditious.
But the dominant political view within the government, and the Congress, was to let the provocative speeches pass at this stage. Sources said Jammu and Kashmir police were also looking into the speeches.