POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Oct 28, 2010 AT 23:59 IST ,  Edited At: Oct 28, 2010 23:59 IST

Lawrence Liang has a wonderful post at Kafila

Despite the many thoughtful critiques of the relationship between family and the state, I have always found it a little surprising that there is very little commentary on the relationship between two strange legal fictions. The first is the idea of the restitution of conjugal rights (RCR), and the other is sedition. The restitution of conjugal rights basically consists of the right of a spouse to demand that his or her — though more often his than her — spouse cohabit with him after she has ‘withdrawn from his society’. Away from the misty world of legal euphemisms, we all know what this means: that you can be forced to sleep with a somewhat less than pleasant person against your wishes. A legal commitment to love in a marriage is a serious thing indeed which only warns us that we must proceed with such a choice very carefully.

But like many marriages, the question of choice is somewhat restricted for many people — as is indeed the case of the choice of loving your country. After all isn’t sedition a crime of passion, and the punishment for an offence of the withdrawal of love for your nation? It is interesting to see that while treason in Sec. 121 of the IPC is about the waging of war against the state, sedition is about a forced love. It is about the creation of ‘disaffection’. As Nivedita Menon points out in a blog post at Kafila, disaffection means “the absence or alienation of affection or goodwill; estrangement”.

A legal commitment to love your nation is also a serious thing indeed, and what then is the punishment of sedition if not, the restitution of the conjugal rights of the state?


This first appeared at Kafila as a blogpost and appears here with the author's consent.  Also read, the comments to this and the accompanying piece by Nivedita Menon on Kafila: Sedition: ‘The highest duty of a citizen’

Nivedita Menon's first comment sums up my reaction as well: " This analogy is absolutely brilliant. Obligatory love and duty, punishment for failure to love – why didn’t I see the endless parallels between marriage and citizenship before?"

POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Oct 28, 2010 AT 23:59 IST ,  Edited At: Oct 28, 2010 23:59 IST
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Daily Mail
Digression
7/D-102
Oct 29, 2010
12:21 PM
Ajit,

>>And why are we barking up the wrong tree? Freedom of speech should be absolute with hateful speeches and incitements to violence attracting the applicable legal provisions.

In India freedom of speech is not an absolute. While I would agree it includes almost everything including freedom to hurt religious sentiments, I don’t think the demand to secede is protected by the constitution. One of the exceptions to the freedom is interest of ‘Sovereignty and integrity of India’.

Article 19 says of the constitution says

1) All citizens shall have the right-

(a) to freedom of speech and expression;

[(2) Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of _16[the sovereignty and integrity of India,] the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.]

>>Simple really. It indeed was a storm in a tea cup. Such speeches are made routinely, so why should a speech made in delhi by arundhati be singled out?

Speeches being made routinely and the state looking the other way cannot be an argument. Try and start a political movement in Maharashtra to separate the state from the rest of the nation and see what happens. In fact the biggest problem in India is that we regularly make exceptions while implementing laws.

>>as jethmalani correctly points out, she is talking nonsense, but she has the right to do so. at least she should. and we have the right to say such things against her. where's the problem?

As I mentioned, we are not arguing against her right to speak nonsense. If we have a law we need to follow it and not make exceptions. I do agree with the larger point that arresting her would give her needless publicity she seeks. Hence if the law cannot be implemented uniformly, let’s just get it out of our statute books!
RSM
Delhi, India
6/D-101
Oct 29, 2010
12:14 PM
i remember the post by swapan das gupta on indian govt giving money to pakistan for flood releif NOT WITH MY MONEY.what if someone says dont buy eqpts for army with my taxes.is it sedition to say against giving money for flood releif/buying arms.
there r thousands of tamils protesting and demanding that neyvelis lignite should not be given to karnataka as it has refused to release cauvery water. is it sedition.
munusamy ganapathy
chennai, India
5/D-97
Oct 29, 2010
11:36 AM
A major part of the work of the opposition parties is to create or encourage disaffection against the government. At election time they may even attempt to bring the government into hatred or contempt. If such activity is called "sedition" and the opposition leaders are charged under section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, then goodbye to democracy!
Anwaar
Dallas, United States
4/D-63
Oct 29, 2010
04:26 AM
rajesh, i actually read nivedita's posts on her blog and she addresses the very points you raise. i think those are valid points. she does make some very good points

http://kafila.org/20...the-state/#commentss
Ajit Tendulkar
Seattle, United States
3/D-52
Oct 29, 2010
03:43 AM
Ajit,

The RCR may come into play only in cases of divorce.. Its the analogy to citizenship that is wrong, which she writes..

RCR is used for saving the marriage for social reasons.. But no state forces its citizens to be its citizen for saving the relation.. you are free to cancel the same and become some other country's citizen..

I agree that Roy should be ignored.. giving her publicity is exactly what she wants.. But here the comparison between RCR and the state is not on valid grounds..
Rajesh
Bangalore, India
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