The Delhi High Court has reminded those shouting anti-India slogans on JNU campus of Indian soldiers’ sacrifice, saying “they are enjoying this freedom only because our borders are guarded by our armed and paramilitary forces.”
The court on Wednesday said the thoughts reflected in the slogans chanted by some of the JNU students who organised and participated in a programme to commemorate Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s hanging cannot be claimed to be protected as fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression.
Forces in most difficult terrain
“Our forces are protecting our frontiers in the most difficult terrain in the world i.e. Siachen Glacier or Rann of Kutch,” it said.
“The kind of slogans raised may have demoralising effect on the family of those martyrs who returned home in coffin draped in tricolour,” said Justice Pratibha Rani.
The HC — which asked Kanhaiya not to indulge in anti-national activities — noted that such persons enjoyed the freedom to raise anti-India slogans in the comfort of JNU campus without realising that they were in this safe environment because “our forces were there at the battle field situated at the highest altitude of the world...”.
It said: “even the oxygen is so scarce (there) that those who are shouting anti-national slogans holding posters of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhatt close to their chest honouring their martyrdom, may not be even able to withstand those conditions (even) for an hour...”
HC reminds Kanhaiya of fundamental duty
On Kanhaiya’s assertion of his right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of Constitution, the HC said: “He has also to be reminded that under Article 51A of Constitution fundamental duties of every citizen have been specified along with the fact that rights and duties are two sides of the same coin.”
Noting that Kanhaiya belonged to an intellectual class as he was pursuing Ph.D from International School of Studies, JNU — considered as hub of intellectuals, the HC said as JNSU president he was expected to be responsible and accountable for any anti-national event organised on the campus.
Free speech is subject to restrictions
“He Kanhaiya) may have any political affiliation or ideology. He has every right to pursue that but it can be only within the framework of our Constitution. India is a living example of unity in diversity. Freedom of expression enjoyed by every citizen can be subjected to reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2) of our Constitution,” Justice Rani said in her order.
“The feelings or the protest reflected in the slogans needs introspection by the student community whose photographs are available on record holding posters carrying photographs of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhatt,” it noted.
Court’s message to JNU faculty
The court also reminded the JNU faculty of its role in guiding the students to the right path so that they could contribute to the growth of the nation and to achieve the object and vision for which JNU was established.
“The reason behind anti-national views in the mind of students who raised slogans on the death anniversary of Afzal Guru, who was convicted for attack on our Parliament, which led to this situation have not only to be found by them but remedial steps are also required to be taken in this regard by those managing the affairs of the JNU so that there is no recurrence of such incident.” it noted.
“This spring why the colour of peace is eluding the prestigious… JNU situated in the heart of Delhi needs to be answered by its students, faculty members and those managing the affairs of this national university,” the HC said.