OPEN LETTER BY ILS LAW COLLEGE, PUNE IN SOLIDARITY WITH JNU AND CONDEMNING THE RECENT HAPPENINGS
To, Date: 24th February, 2016
1. The President of India,
2. The Prime Minister of India,
3. Chairman, University Grants Commission,
4. President, Bar Council of India,
We, the ILS Law College and the undersigned- students, alumni and faculty of ILS Law College, Pune write this letter in our personal capacity to condemn the recent events which have taken place in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi. We oppose any violent slogans against India and firmly stand by the Constitution of India. However, the arbitrary arrest of the students of JNU under the rather archaic sedition law is worrisome as it appears that it is being used to criminalize dissent. The right to nonviolent dissent is an important element of a healthy democracy.
We believe that universities are spaces for learning, education, argumentation and constant academic dialogue. To question is the most fundamental premise on which all educational institutions must exist. Educational institutions should rather encourage dissent and a healthy debate in order to ensure a holistic growth of the individuals therein, thus eventually leading to the development of a rational nation as a whole. University campuses must foster academic and intellectual discourse and should strongly protect the freedom of speech and expression, and the democratic right to dissent. The recent events in the universities like JNU where the JNUSU leader, Kanhaiyya Kumar, was arrested as well as the events which lead to the death of Rohith Vemula at Hyderabad Central University are a result of the actions of an inactive complicit state and respective universities.
When Kanhaiyya was present at the Patiala House Court, he was beaten up by the lawyers, the same fraternity that we come from. The attack on the accused suggests that the lawyers put themselves in the position of judges and punished the accused. This is in strong contradiction to everything that a law student learns to uphold. We strongly oppose the unruly action of the involved lawyers and the MLAs who resorted to violence under the garb of being the self-appointed guardians of nationalism. We, as law students and professionals, consider it to be our duty to uphold the rule of law and to promote fight for justice. Such actions by few of the members of our fraternity are a blot on this rather liberal and noble profession.
The media has played a huge role in tarnishing the image of the students who have started questioning the actions of the government, especially in the case of Kanhaiyya Kumar and Umar Khalid. The media trials conducted by doctoring the videos and playing them on news channels is extremely dangerous as it has affected the image, career and families of those who are being tagged as “Anti National”.
The law on sedition under section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, is against the spirit of a modern democracy and the fundamental right to freedom of expression and free speech as guaranteed by the Constitution of India. The law brought in by the colonial regime of the British has been repealed even by the United Kingdom in 2009. It is therefore strongly suggested that by virtue of being a modern democracy India repeals the section on sedition.
We demand that:
1. Kanhaiyya Kumar, JNUSU president, be discharged of all charges against him and freed immediately.
2. Immediate disciplinary action be taken by the Bar Council against the lawyers responsible for the attack at the Patiala House Court.
3. An investigation be conducted on the evident inaction of the police against the unruly behavior of the guilty lawyers and strong action be taken against those guardians of rule of law who stood there as mute spectators.
4. The government repeals the law of sedition in the Indian Penal Code since free speech is a hallmark of a modern democratic state.
5. The police presence at JNU must be withdrawn immediately and safety be ensured to Kanhaiyya Kumar and Umar Khalid who has also been framed as an offender.
6. Stop the process of anti-intellectualism and the abandonment of reason from educational institutions.
For any further details, please contact:
1. Shrenik Mutha: 7276580662
2. Saranga Ugalmugle: 8975174482
Vaijayanti Joshi, Principal
Reuben Perumal Mani
Kabir Sagar Ghosh