The conviction of Tamil Nadu politician M. Vaiko on a charge of sedition under the old colonial law of 1870 may have been about the only one that could have come to a legal conclusion, with a light sentence of one year’s imprisonment. The need for the statute to stay on the books is, however, questionable, particularly because it has often been misused by the state or nation in defending the establishment against rebels and critics. Considering that most vocal activists, writers, filmmaker, cartoonists and artists could possibly be accused of sedition, the law has no right to exist. The logic against it is if the law is on the books then it will be liable to be misused. A modern democracy does not need such a law. A liberal outlook comes with freedom of speech and expression and maturity is called for, particularly from the rulers for not using the section of the law on sedition.
Vaiko’s case is, however, an exceptional one. He has been a fervent supporter of the now defunct LTTE, an organisation driven by ideology but prone to the greatest excesses in violence against the Sri Lankan nation. Vaiko espoused not only the cause of LTTE but also the grandiose idea of a Tamil homeland comprising the northern part of Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu. He made capital out of the romanticisation of a cause to the extent that violence, discord and disruption are justified, so too planned acts of terror in eliminating leaders, both Sinhalese and Tamil. It is moot whether his propagation of a terror organisation as a legitimate platform for a cause should go to the extent of his conviction. Of course, he makes it w