The Covid pandemic has not deterred politicians from playing politics for a while. The case of rebel YSRC MP K Raghurama Krishnam Raju is yet another reminder of the same. The MP from Narasapuram was arrested last week by the Andhra Pradesh police for alleged hate speeches and booked under various sections including 124 A of the IPC. The real drama, though, began soon after with the MP accusing the cops of torturing him and pictures of his swollen feet going viral.
He was subsequently examined by a medical board constituted by the High Court and also at the Army Hospital in Secunderabad on the orders of the Supreme Court. Reports of both were at variance on a few points. While the former found no fresh injuries, the latter concluded that one of his toes had a fracture. Based on the available material, the Supreme Court has granted him bail, speculating that he may have been possibly ill-treated in custody.
It is up to the courts to decide what had transpired. Nonetheless, we would like to underscore that if the allegation is found true, it would not only be a self-inflicted wound for the AP police and the government but also a gross abuse of state power. Invoking Section 124 A, a relic of the British Raj, is also unwarranted for abusing the government or the chief minister. The point here is not whether his language was fair or foul, but if it fits the definition of sedition. Since the Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar case in 1962, the Supreme Court has in different verdicts including the famous Shreya Singhal case veered around to the view that only “incitement to violence” can be punished in accordance with Article 19(2).
However, it is obvious that the MP’s speeches are deplorable. This is not his first brush with the law either. He faces a CBI case for allegedly defrauding the SBI of Rs 237 crore. For some, he may come across as a comic but his casteist comments could, it may be argued, potentially inflame passions. We do not want to be the judge and the jury but prima facie, it appears both sides have crossed a line.