India

Right to dissent freedom of speech discussed at goa conference

Right to dissent freedom of speech discussed at goa conference
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan said that the right to protest cannot mean causing disturbance. “You cannot occupy a corner and say you will not budge till you get what you want. That is not protest,” he said.

Conversations on dissent and the right to freedom of speech and expression took centre stage at the fifth edition of Difficult Dialogues — a three-day conference in Goa focussing on the state of law in the country.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, Justice Mahesh Sonak of the Goa bench of Bombay High Court, advocates Shyam Divan, Vrinda Grover and Geeta Luthra, and members of civil society spoke on legal issues at the event which concluded last Sunday.

Speaking on the right to protest, Governor Khan had said that the right to protest cannot mean causing disturbance. “You cannot occupy a corner and say you will not budge till you get what you want. That is not protest,” he said.

Asked whether the need to bring a citizenship law has resonated with the citizens, he said that incidents in Pakistan where Hindus were forcibly converted have echoed with Indian citizens.

Justice Sonak, who is the youngest lawyer to be appointed as judge from the Goa Bar, had said that diversity of views is essential in a democracy. “The issues being discussed here show why it is important to protect free speech,” he said.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, who argued against the legality of Aadhaar, warned against a surveillance state. “Our understanding of privacy and what can be protected has only begun after the SC judgment,” he had said, referring to the landmark 2017 ruling in which the top court recognised the right to privacy as a fundamental right.

Surina Narula, Founder and CEO of Difficult Dialogues, said that actionable ideas will be drawn from the conversations.

Apart from the Bar Association of India, the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford, O P Jindal Global University, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Goa University were knowledge partners for the conference.