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Report No. 43

8.5. Constitutional questions.-

Though the provisions of the Act infringe the fundamental rights guaranteed in sub-clauses (a) and (c) of clause (1) of Article 19, nevertheless they are saved because they are "reasonable restrictions" within the meaning of clauses (2) and (4) of that Article. They are directly relatable to the prevention of injury to the sovereignty and integrity of India.

A doubt may, however, be entertained as to whether the wide definition of "unlawful activity" may unreasonably restrict even the honest expression of opinion by a person for the cession of a portion of Indian territory or giving of support to such an opinion without incitement to violence. There are, however, two considerations which weigh with us in not suggesting any amendment to clarify this doubt. First, the definition begins with the word 'action'. This requires something more positive than an academic speech. Hence the courts may be persuaded to construe the Act narrowly in the manner suggested by the Attorney-General in his evidence before the Joint Committee1; and secondly, it is unlikely that Government will consider it necessary to launch a prosecution for a purely academic expression of opinion. The question of a prosecution itself will, therefore, remain as academic as the opinion.

1. Para. 8.2, above.

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