May 30, 2021

TELANGANA: Webinar on Freedom of Speech

Kambhampati Sarma

IT has become a routine to slap sedition charges against those questioning the government, Bennet University professor Madabhashi Sridhar rued and asserted that questioning those in power and highlighting the shortcomings in governance is the right of the people. If a sedition case is proved as false in court, why counter case should not be filed against those who have filed such affidavits. No compensation is being paid when such sedition cases are proved false in courts, and in this context all rules, acts, parliaments and government become irrelevant. When the Supreme Court is giving illustrious judgements on these aspects, why is it not directing authorities to file contempt of court cases against those who have filed such affidavits. He called on political parties to focus on such aspects and fight. Sridhar was speaking on “Is it possible to protect the right to freedom of speech?” at an online event on May 19 to mark the 36th death anniversary of  P Sundarayya. CPI(M) Polit Bureau member by B V Raghavulu presided over the programme. Sundarayya Vignana Kendram managing secretary S Vinay Kumar, CPI(M) state secretary T Veerabhadram also addressed the gathering.

Sridhar illustrated how those in power currently are obstructing free speech, press freedom, parliamentary democracy and its methodology, rules and procedures. He elaborated that even during the British rule, sedition punishment was restricted to only three years. Unless accompanied by violence, such allegations should not be considered as sedition, that is the law. Contrary to such concept, those voted by us to power are foisting sedition cases against us. The BJP and the Congress are competing in foisting such cases. During the Manmohan Singh government, 3,190 cases were filed and now 7,673 cases have been filed by the BJP. It is proved that 95 per cent of cases are false. Failures of the government and defects thereof are not being highlighted and analysed in the media, he said. Sridhar lauded the work being done by the Party amid the coronavirus pandemic. A Covid-19 isolation ward has also been set up at the Sundarayya Vignana Kendram.

Speaking on the occasion, Raghavulu said that they will study the aspects regarding “sedition” and expressed the hope of achieving solutions. It is only because of the media, that corpses thrown in the Ganga river, corona deaths, deficiency of vaccines, medicines and oxygen and also malfunctioning of hospitals, etc are being exposed. This has been possible by freedom of press which is an essential part of democracy. T Veerabhadram said it is painful that so many people died of the coronavirus, it is more so because of the criminal neglect of those in power.