Will Supreme Court of India now define what is Anti-National?
Behind a proposal to lay down guidelines for social media outlets, the Centre is planning to define what is anti-national.
A report in the Times of India said that the centre has said that it will forge guidelines for social media platforms which will force these outlets to share information when they are used for criminal and anti-national activities, says a report in The Times of India.
Criminal activity is specified in the Indian Penal Code and other criminal laws enacted in India. However, the term anti-national is vague and undefined and has been the cause of much concern in recent years with BJP leaders and supporters using it to define those that are opposed to their ideology.
Cases against the social media outlets filed before different high courts in the country have been transferred to the Supreme Court.
Reports show that these cases had been filed against hateful or hate-mongering posts, several of them based on fake news.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan has told the apex court that it should be cautious in issuing guidelines as such guidelines ran the risk of infringing upon citizens right to privacy.
The centre responded that it required three months to frame the guidelines in order to regulate hate speech, fake news, defamatory posts and anti-national activities.
The Supreme Court appears concerned about the misuse of the internet and a judge of the top court mentioned how it was easy to buy a SLR weapon on the dark web. Agencies have reported to the court and others that they are unable to keep surveillance on data calls and texts exchanged between criminal and terror elements.
However, there is genuine concern building over the term anti-national and its political implications that figured in the centres bid to create guidelines for monitoring social media.
The anti-national tag by the BJP and its government
Smriti Irani, then education minister of the first Narendra Modi government, had delivered a speech in parliament laying down her idea of what was national and describing agitating students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) as anti-national.
She had invoked a sentiment common to social media in which anybody dissenting with the government was said to be against the armed forces or the country.
A BJP also called West Bengal CM anti-national for skipping a Niti Ayog meet. Recently those who sympathised with Kashmiris against the lockdown were also labeled anti-national and pro-Pakistani.
In April 2019, when he was denied a ticket, BJP veteran and founder LK Advani said that before the Modi era, the BJP had never considered its dissenters as anti-national.