NC & PDP Criticise UAPA Prosecution Of Arundhati Roy

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Amidst controversy, the National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have strongly criticized the decision to prosecute former Kashmir professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain and author Arundhati Roy under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

The charges relate to alleged provocative speeches made at a conference in Delhi 2010, per orders from the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate in New Delhi.

The NC voiced its disapproval, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding free speech rights enshrined in Article 19 of the Constitution. They condemned the use of anti-terror laws to suppress dissent, particularly given the considerable delay in granting permission for prosecution, which they argue has significantly diminished the relevance of the speeches in question.

Similarly, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti criticized what she described as continued violations of fundamental rights by the Centre, labelling the prosecution of Sheikh Showkat Hussain as an act of frustration. Her daughter and media adviser, Iltija Mufti, expressed concern over the prosecution of Arundhati Roy, describing her as an outspoken advocate unwilling to compromise.

The controversy centres on speeches allegedly delivered by Roy and Hussain at the "Azadi - The Only Way" conference held at New Delhi's LTG Auditorium in October 2010. The FIR against them was filed based on a complaint by social activist Sushil Pandit shortly after the event, as mentioned in a report by Edex Live.

The prosecution sanction, issued by Delhi Lt Governor VK Saxena, underscores ongoing debates over freedom of expression and the application of stringent laws in politically sensitive contexts. Critics argue that using laws like the UAPA to criminalize speech retrospectively poses a threat to democratic principles, sparking renewed discussions on civil liberties and state authority in India.