Academics and Free Speech: Brazen Exhibition of Selective Amnesia
Subramanian Swamy Feb. 15, 2014
Several academics of Indian studies in India and abroad have recently quite brazenly exhibited their selective amnesia by issuing a statement demanding the deletion of Sections 153 A&B and Section 295A of the IPC as ultravires the clauses of free speech enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
They deliberately forget that that in late 2011 when the UPA government, on such US based academics’ pressure, after getting my Harvard courses deleted by a disgraceful and contrived majority in the faculty meeting and without first asking my response, got registered a FIR invoking the same Sections of the IPC for an Op Ed article I had written for a Mumbai daily ‘The DNA’ titled “How to Wipe Out Islamic Terrorism”.
This FIR had to be registered on the orders of the then Home Minister, by the Ministry’s Crime Branch which normally considers terrorist related complaints or information. This was because three Police Stations in Delhi and Mumbai which first received the complaint from the Minorities Commission refused to register the FIR “as disclosing no offence”.
I had approached the Delhi High Court in a Petition and the Court gave me a permanent injunction against my arrest for custodial interrogation, and listed the matter for a full hearing. Till date the Home Ministry has failed to produce in court any evidence that my Op Ed manifested in any substantial or significant unrest or hurt feelings within the meaning the IPC.
Today the shoes pinches on the other foot. Professor Doniger opted out fighting for her fundamental rights, as I had done, and her publishers as any good commercial entity would, cut their losses by surrendering faced with certain defeat in the court.
Hence these academics cry of academic freedom carries no credibility, and there is, I am convinced, no court or future Parliament in India which will respond sympathetically to their demand. Rather most Indians will think that they have got their just dessert.