Mortal’s Symposium Episode- 1 with Mr. Raghav Kohli

Mortal's Well-Being Trust successfully organized its debut episode of Mortal's Symposium with Mr. Raghav Kohli as the honourable speaker. This educational and informative webinar on the topic "The Right to Freedom of Speech" helped in getting a better understanding of this contemporary subject of study with insights into the historical perspective as well. The webinar was attended by 80-100 participants.

Mr. Kinjalk Sharma, the Founder of this organization, served as the Moderator for Mortal's Symposium Episode-1.

Mr. Prabhav Tripathi, the Editor-In-Chief of this organization, served as the Stenographer for Mortal's Symposium Episode-1.

Here are some interesting highlights of this enlightening webinar:

On historical accounts:

"If we look into the historical perspective, we find the trail of philosopher Socrates in the year 399 BCE as a perfect example regarding the curtailment of Right to free speech and expression on a public platform. He was charged with two impious acts- for failing to acknowledge the gods that the city acknowledged and for introducing strange gods in the society. It was concluded that he did this to corrupt the youth of the city-state as the trial progressed.

In another case in 1633, Galileo Galilei was found guilty for heresy (controversial or unorthodox opinions held by a member of a political, religious or philosophical group) and was sentenced to lifelong imprisonment in his home where he later died in 1642. He was sentenced for holding the belief that the Earth revolves around the sun, which was deemed heretical by the Catholic Church, though it was later found out to be scientifically true. It does not matter if a belief is true or not, the freedom of expressing and holding a particular opinion must be available to all citizens."

Constitution of India:

"I would put stress and focus on the word 'reasonable restrictions' in Article 19 of our constitution as the definition of this phrase depends on the interpretation of the judiciary in a particular case. From J.S. Mill's book 'On Liberty' we can see the defenses of free speech have been explained. In a society that was torn by religion and caste, it was difficult to push arguments to logical outputs. Freedom of speech is important for a flourishing democracy and for the protection of individuals' rights.

Vague grounds like decency and morality can be found in Article 19(2) which cannot be defined. A review of these grounds by the Parliament can help in improving the law."

Sedition Charges:

"The Sedition Provision under section 124(A), which was drafted by Thomas B. Macaulay, is a 'very broadly worded' law. In recent times, we have witnessed a rampant use of this provision to stifle the individuals. They have been charged with sedition for having a stance and opinion against the government. In a democracy, it is important to recognize that no public sector should be left uncriticized as it helps in the constructive approach of the respective department.

In Kedar Nath Singh vs the State of Bihar (1962) the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India court stated that no one can be charged for sedition unless the act is to incite violence or it leads to violence. Still, authoritative actions are being taken, disregarding the precedent of the apex court."

Spread of Propaganda by News Media:

"The impact of fake news on elections is troubling people across the world as people are getting elected to power on the basis of information that is completely false. Ruling political parties are using the Press to stifle criticism of their policies and suppressing the engagement of opposition's view on a specific topic or policy. Democracies around the world are facing the problem of modern propaganda, whether it is the US or India, and we need to collectively fight it. Mainstream media has forgotten its role as the fourth pillar of democracy. It is definitely a misuse of freedom of speech and we need innovative solutions to counter it. I hope, in the near future, we would come to a common consensus on the implementation of a regulation mechanism against extreme polarization and fake news."