Archaic laws inherited from colonial rulers must be struck from the law books
There is a dichotomy in the authorities’ approach to the application of archaic laws. For example, the authoritarianism of the police against the black flag demonstration has no legal basis, but the practice continues unabated day after day. There have been instances where hundreds of protesters have been arrested and sentenced to non-dischargeable offenses for staging black flag protests.
It caused consternation a few years ago when 11 Lucknow University students, including two girls, were taken into custody for 14 days for breaching security and showing black flags to the Chief Minister of Education ‘Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath.
In the FIR, the police also lobbied on Section 7 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, which made the process of obtaining bail difficult, jeopardizing the future of students.
Waving black flags should have been the most democratic way to express dissent because it’s just a token gesture that does no harm to the target, but our law makes it a criminal offense, thanks to the colonial mentality left behind by the British.
Strange as it may seem, Indian law allows much worse forms of insulting public figures, such as burning effigies, using garlands made of chappals, spraying black paint and oil.
More creative protesters crowd into coffins and service wreaths, funeral prayers and pyres. The police can’t do anything about it because the courts have ruled that there is no provision in the Indian Penal Code that makes the burning of effigies a punishable offence. Police can, at best, charge protesters with reckless and careless handling of fire or combustible materials.