An open letter recently penned by former civil servants expressed concern over the growing “assault on the Rule of Law in India and on its citizens’ rights to free speech and dissent”. These former civil servants include notable former IAS officers like Aruna Roy and Wajahat Habibullah.
The letter titled ‘Assault on the Rule of Law and Article 19 of the Constitution of India’, cried over the rule of law in the country. It also asked Indians to unite to fight in the defence of the rule of law and Article 19, i.e Right to Freedom of Speech.
‘Misuse’ Of Sedition Law And Assault On Article 19
The letter talked about the increase in the usage of the sedition law and how it is choking freedom of speech of the people.
It cited the arrest of 11 activists, including Kafeel Khan, Safoora Zargar, Akhil Gogoi, Sharjeel Imam, and the murder of Karnataka-based journalist Gauri Lankesh to highlight the corrosion of Article 19 under the government.
The letter accused the government of using the pandemic as a tool to silence the media. This was said in the letter in the context of 55 journalists who were singled out for writing about the mishandling of the crisis, and the criminal case against Siddharth Varadarajan, the founding editor of TheWire, for writing against UP’s CM Yogi Adityanath.
The signatories of the letter also argued that the gap between the “rhetoric and reality” is widening.
They added the imposed curfew in Kashmir by the Government and use of the stringent UAPA against people who participated in the Anti-CAA protest and the NCR.
The letter further alleged that the police establishment has become a proxy at the hands of the political party in power.
According to the letter, the arrest of activists such as Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen, Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde under the UAPA is choking their freedom of expression.
Commenting on the Northeast Delhi riots, the letter noted, “The investigations into the riots in north-east Delhi have betrayed an institutional bias against the minority community.”