Unwarranted arrest: On sedition charges against Rahu Ramakrishna Raju

The arrest of K. Raghu Ramakrishna Raju, an MP from Andhra Pradesh, on the grave charge of sedition, is yet another instance of the misuse of the provision relating to exciting “disaffection” against the government. The police in different States have been invoking sedition, an offence defined in Section 124A IPC, against critics of the establishment and prominent dissenters. It is not surprising that Mr. Raju, a vocal detractor of A.P. Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, is sought to be prosecuted. However, his arrest is unwarranted, considering that he is being accused of only speech-based offences relating to his diatribe against his party leader and CM. It has predictably, and not without justification, invited charges of political vendetta. Even if one were to accept at face value the prosecution’s claim that his speeches stoked hatred against communities — he had referred to alleged rampant conversion activities in the State — and attracted prosecution under Section 153-A

Avoiding breakdown: On GST council meeting

After a gap of over seven months, the GST Council will now meet on May 28, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced last Saturday. That the Council, expected to meet every quarter, has taken possibly the longest pause in its functioning does not set a good precedent. Given the acrimony that transpired in its last few meetings over how the States’ GST compensation dues for the pandemic-induced lockdown-dented 2020-21 were to be met, the long break makes Centre-State equations even more awkward. States later reluctantly agreed to the Centre’s proposal to raise ₹1.1 lakh crore of GST recompense dues through special market borrowings, after the Finance Ministry backed off from insisting that States raise these loans directly. In the intervening period, the economy almost surged back to normalcy before being hobbled again by the second wave of infections. And unlike the first wave, there is a greater onus on the States now to figure out everything from what mobility restrictions to put
Editorial

Using all options: On Covaxin licensing

As the second COVID-19 wave continues to ravage the country, it is now clear that universal and swift vaccination is the only way out to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. But with only 3% and 10.4% of the total population estimated to have taken the second and a single dose, respectively, the goal of vaccinating a substantial number of people to achieve immunity against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants, remains a tall order for India. Supply constraints in delivering the only two vaccines available to Indians so far — Covishield and Covaxin — (the Russian-developed Sputnik V vaccine has just been deployed) are one of the reasons why the pace of vaccination has fallen. Karnataka and Maharashtra have halted vaccination for the 18-44 age group to address this as well. While the manufacturers, Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, have promised an augmentation in production capacity, the dependence on them till other vaccines, including those from abroad, are made available over the

Editorial

Artless and heartless: On Central Vista project

The Government of India’s Central Vista redevelopment project is highly questionable as a national priority at any time, and more so in the midst of a pandemic. The project includes the construction of a new Parliament building, and new residences for the Prime Minister and the Vice President. A new Parliament building is indeed required; and there is a strong case for reorganising the existing offices of the central government. However, the architecture and timelines of the redevelopment as it is happening now are less about the need and more about an imperious obsession with grandeur. The irony is that a colossus built amid the ruins of a pandemic could turn out to be a monument to the government’s disregard for public good. The misplaced determination of the Centre to complete the project before the next Lok Sabha election in 2024 is characteristic of the showmanship that has befallen governance in India, but there is no justifiable urgency in razing to the ground a row of buildings

Editorial

Out of line: On West Bengal Governor's visit to violence-hit areas

There is little doubt that West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar’s visit to areas hit by post-poll violence in Cooch Behar constitutes a grave transgression of the bounds of constitutional propriety. A habitual critic of the Mamata Banerjee regime, he has been given to ignoring the principle that constitutional heads should not air their differences with the elected regimes in public. As recently as December 2020, Ms. Banerjee had appealed to the President to recall the Governor for political statements that she believed were being made by him at the behest of the BJP-led Union government. One would have thought that a fresh election, in which Ms. Banerjee’s TMC has won a resounding victory, would be a reminder, if one was needed at all, that the norms of representative government ought to be a natural restraint on Mr. Dhankhar’s gubernatorial propensity to speak out of turn and step out of line.There was a time when another West Bengal Governor, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, came in for some

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