Citizenship and Related Issues

Defining Anti-national Activities


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Various FRs not available to Foreigners

Mains level: Read the attached story

Ever since the anti-CAA protests erupted across the country, the MHA has been quite active in filtering out foreigners among the protesters and serving them with ‘Leave India’ notices’.

What contributes to ‘Anti-government’ activities?

  • According to visa guidelines laid out by the MHA, Foreign nationals shall be required to strictly adhere to the purpose of visit declared while submitting the visa application.
  • However, a foreign national (other than a Pakistani national) coming to India on any type of visa will be allowed to avail activities permitted under tourist visa.
  • However, there are no provisions specified under “anti-government” activities subhead.
  • The absence of any such provision in visa laws or Foreigner’s Act makes it necessary for the government to define “anti-government” activities under a statute.
  • Visa laws are not in any derogation with any other law, so inferences can be drawn — which means a court can rule that whatever are defined as “anti-government” activities for Indian national is “anti-government” for foreign national too.”

What do ‘anti-government’ activities mean for an Indian national?

  • According to the lawyers, anti-government activities are those which are listed as punishable under Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code.
  • Section 124A IPC deals with attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India.
  • Such offences shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which a fine may be added; or, with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which a fine may be added; or, with fine.

Does a foreigner on Indian visa have a right to protest?

  • Right to protest peacefully is enshrined under Article 19(1)(a) of Indian Constitution which guarantees the freedom of speech and expression.
  • Article (19)(b) guarantees the citizens of the country the right to assemble peacefully and without arms.
  • Since Article 14 of the Constitution ensures equality to any person before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India, foreigners also have the right to protest peacefully, argue proponents.
  • However, the act done by the foreigner must not be anything in contravention to the existing laws of India.
  • Being a part of a peaceful protest isn’t illegal and thus, being a part of it isn’t anything wrong even if that is against the Indian government, critic says.

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