Petitioning Government of India and 1 other
This petition will be delivered to:
Government of India
All State Govenments

PROTECT OUR CONSTITUTIONAL AND DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS TO FREE SPEECH AND EXPRESSION

I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

~Voltaire 

No democracy can claim to be one, unless freedom of speech and expression are guaranteed by statute and where the state machinery works to ensure compliance not only in the behavior of government, but of its citizens.  The curbing of expression with threat and through terror, increasingly more menacing, should be condemned and stopped, if our country is to become a mature democracy.  Indeed, the expression of varied and differing opinions strengthen the political discourse and empowers people to make informed choices.

In the last fortnight there has been a resurgence of attacks to curb the right to free speech and expression of Indian citizens who did not share the euphoria, hope and enthusiasm associated with recent election results.

It is important to note that such attempts to curtail the right to free speech and expression of writers, academics, activists and ordinary citizens have been recurring incidents over the past two decades, irrespective of the political party in power. Last month, a widely respected and well know Kannada writer, U.R. Ananthamurthy was sent a one-way ticket to Karachi as well as threatened with phones calls asking him “when he was going to leave” for saying “ I would not like to live in a country ruled by Modi.”  In another incident, a youth, Syed Vaqas, along with four friends from Bhatkal, Karnataka were arrested for sending a message (when the election results were announced) caricaturing the BJP government’s election slogan “aab ki bar antimsanskar (modi sarkar).” A third incident is about a 31-year-old naval engineer from Goa, Devu Chodankar, for his alleged inflammatory comments against Mr. Narendra Modi on social media. More recently, in Bihar members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) disrupted a People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) seminar, to discuss the detention of Professor G.N. Saibaba of Delhi University (arrested for alleged Maoist links) and its implications for human rights. Or take the case of the two girls from Palghar, Maharashtra who were arrested for criticizing the shutdown of Mumbai for Shiv Sena’s chief Bal Thakeray’s funeral in 2012, even though the Constitution of India guarantees plurality of diverse political opinion. All these incidents signify acts of political expression that were reinterpreted as not conforming to mainstream positions.

In the two recent cases in Karnataka and Goa, the representatives of police in Goa and Bangalore have stated in the newspapers that these cases do not warrant arrests; but the PMO has remained silent on this blatant attack on curbing citizens’ free speech and expression.

As concerned citizens of a free and democratic India we protest against the continuing intolerant legislative attempts at criminalizing dissenting opinion and those in certain sections of society that take law into their hands to disrupt peaceful discussions and dialogue. In particular, we oppose the use of the draconic Section 66A of the IT Act. The IT Act has been worded deliberately to give unbridled powers to the State to clamp down on free speech. Section 66A prescribes criminal punishment of up to 3 years for merely sending messages which can cause ‘annoyance’ or ‘inconvenience’ or ‘danger’ or ‘insult,’ and gives unfettered discretion to enforcement agencies to enforce it. The recent incidents signify abuse under this provision that gives freedom to those in power to violate the fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution.

We believe that voicing of dissent, expression of concern, constructive criticism and adversarial dialogue are an integral part of deliberative democracy. The ongoing attempts to quell political dissent or dialogue among citizens through draconian laws for ulterior motives poses a grave danger to Indian democracy.

We the undersigned demand that the Government of India and all State Governments respect and protect all constitutional rights to free speech and expression, and personal liberty as guaranteed by Article 19 (1) (a), and Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

We fully support the right of all citizens to freely express their views, dissenting or otherwise.  

We demand the concerned authorities follow due process and drop the exaggerated criminal charges against all these individuals.

We strongly condemn the use of social policing, boycott and other means of state coercion to silence citizens, legitimized through regressive legislations such as the IT Act. We demand that section 66A of the IT Act should be deleted.

We urge the Prime Minister, and the Government of India and all State Governments to respect the right of citizens' to express their thoughts and views, guaranteed by the Constitution of India, without fear of retribution.

Postscript:

The brutal lynching of an innocent young professional in Pune, following the arson and rioting in reaction to a face book post, is evidence of the continuing atmosphere of intolerance and fear that threatens our democracy and must be stopped immediately.

 

  1. Aruna Roy
  2. Romila Thapar
  3. Baba Adhav 
  4. Vivan Sundaram
  5. Prabhat Patnaik
  6. Mrinal Pande
  7. Utsa Patnaik
  8. Praful Bidwai
  9. K R Venugopal
  10. Jean Dreze
  11. Jayati Ghosh
  12. Anand Pathwardhan
  13. Mallika Sarabhai
  14. TM Krishna
  15. Prof. Hargopal
  16. Dr. Anand Teltumbde
  17. Harsh Mander
  18. Nandita Das
  19. Prahsant Bhushan
  20. EAS Sarma
  21. S G Vasudev
  22. PV Rajagopal
  23. Ammu Joseph
  24. Medha Patkar
  25. Dilip Simeon
  26. Deep Joshi
  27. V Suresh
  28. Teesta Setalvad 
  29. Ram Rahman
  30. Amit Bhaduri
  31. Nandini Sundar
  32. Amita Baviskar
  33. SR Hiremath
  34. Zoya Hassan
  35. Sumit Chakravarthy
  36. Paul Diwakar
  37. Prithvi Sharma
  38. Vrinda Grover
  39. Shanta Sinha 
  40. Jairus Banaji
  41. Babloo Loitongbam
  42. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta
  43. Siddhartha Basu
  44. Mahesh Bhatt
  45. Manoj Mitta
  46. Kavita Srivastava
  47. Vasanth Kannabiran
  48. Rajni Bakshi
  49. Satish Deshpande
  50. Darryl D’Monte
  51. Nikhil Dey
  52. Achin Vanaik
  53. Ram Puniyani
  54. Akhila Sivadas
  55. Amar Kanwar
  56. Aruna Rodrigues
  57. Ashish Kothari
  58. Vipul Mudgal
  59. Dr. Anandlakshmy
  60. Lalit Mathur
  61. Harsh Sethi
  62. Supriya Madangarli
  63. MK Raina
  64. Vijay Pratap
  65. Achyut Das
  66. Pamela Philipose
  67. Kalyani Menon-Sen
  68. Sudha Bharadwaj
  69. Bhanwar Meghwanshi
  70. Bartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan
  71. Kachara Kamagar Union 
  72. Bhupendra Yadav
  73. Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai
  74. Geeta Kapur
  75. Jagdeep Chhokar
  76. Jyotirmaya Sharma
  77. Lalita Ramdas
  78. Dunu Roy
  79. Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool
  80. Henri Tiphagne
  81. Mary E John
  82. Ravi Chopra
  83. Ashim Jain
  84. Ranjana Ray
  85. Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu
  86. Bhaskar Prabhu
  87. Anjali Bharadwaj
  88. Angela Rangad
  89. Tarun Bhartiya
  90. Devasahayam MG
  91. D L Tipathi
  92. Miloon Kothari
  93. Pradip Prabhu
  94. Shabnam Hashmi
  95. Sukumar Murlidharan
  96. Ramaswamy R. Iyer
  97. Abhay Shukla
  98. Action Aid, Rajasthan 
  99. Afroz Alam Sahil
  100. Aaris Mohammed
  101. Aheli Chowdhury 
  102. Amba Kak
  103. Amit Sharma 
  104. Amitadyuti Kumar
  105. Amrita Johri  
  106. Anant Bhatnagar
  107. Ania Loomba
  108. Anita Dube
  109. Anjali Monteiro
  110. Ankita Pandey
  111. Anomita Sen
  112. Antra Ganguli
  113. Anuradha Kappor
  114. Arun Joshi
  115. Aruna Burte
  116. Arunava Sinha 
  117. Arvind Ojha
  118. Asha Dey
  119. Ashish Jha
  120. Ashish Ranjan 
  121. Ashish Sen
  122. Ashok Khandelwal
  123. Ashok Rao
  124. Asif Iqbal
  125. B.R.P. Bhaskar
  126. Babu Rao Kalapala 
  127. Babu Thaliath
  128. Bapuji Bhaskaramma Ramamohana 
  129. Bina Sarkar Ellias
  130. Bindu Batra
  131. Biraj Patnaik
  132. Brinda Adige
  133. Brinda Bose
  134. Chandradasan
  135. Charul
  136. Chayanika Shah
  137. CVP Nambudiri
  138. Cynthia Stephen
  139. Debraj Mukherjee
  140. Deepika Singh
  141. Deepta Chopra
  142. Digvijay Singh 
  143. Dinesh Mohan
  144. Dipa Sinha
  145. Dipak Dholakia
  146. Dolly Daftary
  147. Dorothy Fernandes
  148. Dr. A Gopalakrishnan
  149. Dr. Divya Singhal
  150. Dr. R. Padmini
  151. Dr. Zaheer Ahmed Sayeed
  152. Dr. Swarnamalya Ganesh 
  153. Duvvuru Narasimha Reddy
  154. Edward Nazareth
  155. Faisal Khan
  156. Francis Lobo
  157. Gabriele Dietrich
  158. Gargi Chakrawarti 
  159. Garima S
  160. Gautam Shonti
  161. George Pulkiuthiyil
  162. Goldy M George
  163. Himanshu Thakkar
  164. Inayat Sabhikhi 
  165. Indian Community Activists Network ( ICAN)
  166. Indira Chandrasekhar
  167. Janani S
  168. Jasveen Jairath
  169. Javed Malick
  170. Jaya Sharma
  171. Jayadev U. K.
  172. Jeevan Kumar
  173. Jhuma Sen
  174. Juhi Jain
  175. Jyotsna Jha
  176. Kamal Tak
  177. Kamayani Swami
  178. Kavita Panjabi
  179. Kiran Shaheen 
  180. Komal Srivastava
  181. Koninika Ray 
  182. Krishan Takhar
  183. Krishnakant Chauhan
  184. Lakshmi Krishnamurty
  185. Lal Singh
  186. Lara Jesani
  187. Lata Singh
  188. Lawrence Liang
  189. Laxmi Mutthy
  190. Lesley Esteves
  191. Lubna Sarwath   
  192. M. Hasan
  193. M.A. Shakeel
  194. Madan Gopal Singh
  195. Madhu Prasad
  196. Madhuresh  Kumar   
  197. Madhuri Krishnaswamy
  198. Maitreyi Misra
  199. Malika Virdi
  200. Mamta Jaitly
  201. Manglesh Dabral 
  202. Manisha Sethi 
  203. Mansi Sharma
  204. Mazher Hussain
  205. Meenakshi Kandasamy
  206. Megha Kumar
  207. Meher Engineer
  208. MKSS, Rajasthan
  209. Mukesh Choudhary 
  210. Mukesh Goswami 
  211. Mukul Dube
  212. Murali Vettath
  213. Nachiket Udupa
  214. Nandini Manjerekar
  215. Neena Rao
  216. Neerak Malik
  217. Neeta Haridkar
  218. Nirveek Bhattacharjee
  219. Nisha Sidhu
  220. Nishat Hussein
  221. Nishikant Deshmukh
  222. Nitu Sanadhya
  223. Nityanand J
  224. Omana T.K.
  225. Oishik Sen
  226. Ovais Sultan Khan
  227. P L Mimroth
  228. P. Chennaiah
  229. P. Udayakumar
  230. Paari Vendhan 
  231. Parthiv Shah
  232. Poornima Chikarmane
  233. PP. Ravindran
  234. Praavita 
  235. Prabhu Ghate
  236. Prafulla Samantra
  237. Prakash Burte
  238. Prasad Chacko
  239. Prashant Prakash 
  240. Prashanto Sen
  241. Prem Krishan Sharma
  242. Pushpendra
  243. Rachna Dhingra
  244. Radha Kant Saxena
  245. Radhika Ganesh
  246. Rajendra K Sail
  247. Rajendra Prasad
  248. Rakesh Sharma
  249. Rakshita Swamy 
  250. Ramchandra Prasad
  251. Ramesh Nandwana
  252. Ranesh Ray 
  253. Rani Sarma
  254. Ranjith K B
  255. Rashid Hussein
  256. Ravi Kiran Jain
  257. Ravi Nitesh
  258. Renuka Mishra 
  259. Renuka Pamecha
  260. Renuka Sarah
  261. Revathi Narayanan
  262. Reyhana Datta
  263. Ridhima
  264. Rita Anand
  265. Rohit Prajapati
  266. S R Hireath
  267. Sabitha Satchi
  268. Sachin Jain
  269. Sachin Ketkar 
  270. Sagar Rabari
  271. Saikat Ghosh
  272. Sandeep Kumar Pattnaik
  273. Sangeetha Sivakumar
  274. Sanjay Krishna 
  275. Sanjay Kumar
  276. Sankara Narayanan
  277. Saraswati kavula 
  278. Sarwat Ali 
  279. Satchid Anandan
  280. Satinath Sarangi
  281. Satya Sivaraman
  282. Sejal Dand
  283. Shabnam Aziz
  284. Shailendra Boora SJ
  285. Shalini Gera
  286. Sanjay Kumar
  287. Shankar Singh
  288. Shashi Sail
  289. Shiraz Balsara
  290. Shomi Das
  291. Shradha Chickerur
  292. Shree Prakash
  293. Shrenik Mutha
  294. Shripadh Dharmadhikari
  295. Shuddhabrata Sengupta
  296. Shweta Rao
  297. Siddhartha 
  298. Simantini Dhuru
  299. Sister Geeta
  300. Sister Mariola
  301. Smita Gupta
  302. Soma KP
  303. Somnath Mukherji
  304. Soumenn Ray
  305. Soumya Datta
  306. Sowmya Sivakumar
  307. Stan Swamy
  308. Subhash Gatade
  309. Subhash Lomte
  310. Suchi Pande
  311. Sujata Patel
  312. Sukla Sen
  313. Sunanda Bhat
  314. Sunil Kumar Aledia 
  315. Suniti SR
  316. Surekha Sharma
  317. Svati Joshi
  318. Swathi Danesh
  319. Swathi Seshadhari
  320. Swati Narayan 
  321. T D Ramakrishnan
  322. T. Ramakrishnan
  323. R Trupti Shah
  324. Tushar Dhara 
  325. Ujjwala Mhatre
  326. Uma V Chandru
  327. Umesh Anand
  328. Vahida Nainar
  329. Vandana Mahajan
  330. Vandanaa Kulkarini
  331. Vasudev S. Charupa
  332. Veena Shatrugana
  333. Vihar Bharat Talwar
  334. Vishal Kudchadkar
  335. Vijay Burgula 
  336. Vinay Mahajan
  337. Vividha Sansthan
  338. Yamuna Soma

 

 


Letter to
Government of India
All State Govenments
PROTECT OUR CONSTITUTIONAL AND DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS TO FREE SPEECH AND EXPRESSION