Justice Markandey Katju
I did not wish to comment on the JNU issue as the whole atmosphere was so emotionally surcharged thanks to our TRP driven media and certain politicians who were trying to demonstrate their ‘nationalism’ that it was difficult to speak coolly and rationally.
I may now say a few things about it :
1. What did the JNU students do ? They only shouted slogans of azadi, etc, and some of the videos displayed by some TV channels were allegedly morphed. Such slogans are shouted regularly in Kashmir, in the North East, by Khalistanis etc. Will all of them be charged with sedition and arrested ? And perhaps many who shouted such slogans were Kashmiri students living in Delhi. By levying sedition and other criminal charges against them the government has only made Kanhaiya and his associates heroes in the public eye. The whole government excercise has boomeranged.
But mere words break no bones. A country does not become ‘barbaad’ by merely shouting slogans. It is only if there is violence or incitement to immediate violence that it becomes seditiion, as the emiinent jurists Fali Nariman and Soli Sorabji said. If a section of the media had not hyped up the matter so much perhaps no one would have even noticed the incident.
2. I am told that most students across India support Kanhaiya and others, and Kanhaiya has become a national figure. But most students are only emotional. I have not heard a single scientific idea in the speeches of Kanhaiya and his associates, but only emotional words about getting azadi from exploitation etc without explaining how this will be achieved.
In all likelihood these youth will in later life become Professors, government servants, politicians ( though Kanhaiya has disclaimed it ), or end up in some corporate, etc
(Writer is Former Supreme Court Judge and Ex Chairman of Press Council of India)