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Oct 26, 2010 at 01:27pm IST

Civil rights groups stand by Arundhati Roy

New Delhi: Civil rights groups have protested Delhi Police's reported move to book writer-activist Arundhati Roy for sedition. Talking to CNN-IBN, National Advisory Council (NAC) member and social activist Aruna Roy defended Arundhati's right to express her opinion.

"Well I speak for myself and not as an NAC Member. I simply do not believe. Neither for Arundhati nor for any other person, that just by expressing an opinion you become seditious. I think that in this country we have had a long history and tradition, long before Independence and thereafter where all kinds of opinions have been expressed. Just the expression of an opnion without inciting people is not seditious. She has just talked and she has a right to her opinion just as much as anybody else," said Aruna Roy.

"There are other constitutional rights that protect our freedom of expression and there are many other people who make even more seditious remarks, who are fully ignored by the establishment. I would say that it would be a terrible day, a black day for Indian democracy when they proceed against her legally," she said.

Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan also said that dissent should not be confused with sedition.

"Every citizen has a right to discuss any issue freely frankly, boldly. Even if the country needs to be reorganised, even Nehru said that there should be a plebicite and Kashmir should be given a right, whether they want to merge with pak or remain in India. Can you say he was guilty of sedition? Only that speech that inscites people to violence and armed revolt can be considered sedition," said Bhushan.

Other public figures who have been booked for sedition in the past: MDMK leader Vaiko had allegedly made speeches in support of banned organisations in October 2008. In March 2007 social activist Dr Binayak Sen was detained on charges of sedition. He was speaking out against atrocities allegedly committed by the state-backed militia Salwa Judum.

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