John Brittas / Photo: Unnikrishnan PG
New Delhi: India's vice-president Jagdeep Dhankhar, who is also the Rajya Sabha chairman, issued a show cause notice to Rajya Sabha member John Brittas for writing an article criticising union home minister Amit Shah. The notice is based on a complaint that the comments against Shah in the article were seditious.
It is indicated that the CPM leader was asked for a written explanation regarding the article. The Rajya Sabha secretariat summoned John Brittas. The vice-president heard Brittas' explanation before issuing the notice based on BJP state general secretary P Sudheer's complaint.
The show cause notice is for an article written in the Indian Express on February 20 slamming Shah's statements against Kerala. The home minister, while speaking at a party event in Karnataka earlier this year, said that only the BJP could keep Karnataka safe and “there is Kerala near you, I don’t want to talk much about it". This had drawn criticism from both the CPM and Congress. Brittas, in the article, stated that Shah's comment was violation of Section 153 A of the IPC (promoting enmity). He also argued that the home minister’s “periodic outbursts” against Kerala were due to his “desperation” and they were attempts to "turn India into a Hindu Rashtra.” He said “Kerala has tirelessly resisted his party’s designs."
Sudheer filed a complaint with the Rajya Sabha chairman saying Brittas' article was polarising and demanded action for sedition. In the complaint, Sudheer also requested steps be taken to "prevent such polarising articles" in the future.
John Brittas said it was strange that a complaint was made against him over a newspaper article. The article was in response to the home minister's allegations against Kerala, I was simply exercising his right to freedom of expression, he said. Speaking to Mathrubhumi, Brittas expressed surprise at the action taken against him.
Brittas confirmed that he was summoned by the vice-president. He also pointed out that even the Kerala chief minister had reacted against Amit Shah's statement.