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"Children Being Forced To Voice Provocative Slogans. Is It Legal?": Kerala High Court

Hannah M Varghese
23 May 2022 3:59 PM GMT
Children Being Forced To Voice Provocative Slogans. Is It Legal?: Kerala High Court
"These children will grow up with hatred inside them", the Court orally observed.

The Kerala High Court on Monday expressed concerns about children being used in political and religious rallies and made to raise provocative slogans.

A single bench of Justice P Gopinath wondered if using children for such activities was legal.

The bench shared these concerns while adjudicating upon a group of cases involving minors and offences under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and opined that steps must be taken in favour of this goal.

While discussing the matter, Justice Gopinath P orally remarked that he had recently witnessed a provocative video of a child spewing hatred at a political rally.

"I just want to know if there is any law which prohibits this. These children will grow up with hatred inside them."

Incidentally, this comes two days after the rally organised by the Popular Front of India (PFI) in the Alappuzha district where the video of a minor boy seated on the shoulders of another person and prompting apparently provocative slogans against other religions went viral on social media.

This video had garnered much attention and had drawn widespread condemnation. The police are reportedly looking into the incident.

The Judge then pondered over the issue of how legal it was to push young children to participate in such political rallies and shout out religious or politically coloured slogans.

"Children are being forced to take part in political rallies and are made to voice all sorts of provocative slogans. That is some new kind of attraction, it seems. But how far is that legal?"

Justice Gopinath also outlined the permanent damage that was likely to be the consequences of such behaviour in the long run, if the same were to be permitted to continue unregulated. Therefore, he urged that some effort be put into curbing this issue.

"Aren't they fostering a new generation that grows up with religious hatred in their minds? When this child grows up and becomes a major, his mind will already be conditioned to this kind of rhetoric. Something must be done." He added that children should be protected from such overt incidents that could adversely impact their impressionable minds.

He added that children must be totally prohibited from taking part in these rallies or sloganeering, pointing out that they do not have the legal right to vote or even drive till they are 18.

"Under the guise of freedom of speech and religion, can they be made to be a part of political rallies or religious rallies? He does not know what he is saying."

Recently, the High Court had observed that PFI and SDPI are extremist organizations, though not banned.

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