Law of sedition cannot be invoked to quieten the disquiet, says Delhi court

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The law of sedition cannot be invoked to quieten the disquiet under the pretence of muzzling the miscreants, said A Delhi court on Tuesday. File photo

The law of sedition cannot be invoked to quieten the disquiet under the pretence of muzzling the miscreants, said A Delhi court on Tuesday.

Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana made the observation while granting bail to two persons – Devi Lal Burdak and Swaroop Ram. Delhi police had arrested the duo earlier this month for allegedly committing sedition and spreading rumours by posting a fake video on Facebook during ongoing farmers’ protest.

Invocation of Section 124A (sedition) IPC is a “seriously debatable issue” in the case before it, the court added.

The court also said that the law of sedition was a powerful tool in the hands of the state to maintain peace and order in society. “However, it cannot be invoked to quieten the disquiet under the pretence of muzzling the miscreants. Evidently, law proscribes any act which has a tendency to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence.”

“In the absence of any exhortation, call, incitement or instigation to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence or any allusion or oblique remark or even any hint towards this objective, attributable to the accused, I suspect that Section 124 A (sedition) IPC can be validly invoked against the applicant,” the judge said on February 15.

A seriously debatable issue

The judge said, “In my considered opinion, on a plain reading of the tagline attributed to the accused, the invocation of Section 124 A IPC (law of sedition) is a seriously debatable issue.”

According to police, Burdak had posted a fake video on his Facebook page with the tagline “there is a rebellion in Delhi Police and around 200 police officials have given mass resignation.”

However the posted video was related to an incident wherein some persons in Khaki (Home Guard personnel) were agitating in respect of their grievances with Jharkhand Government, the prosecution said.

In his Facebook post, Ram had shared a separate video with similar tagline.

However, the posted video was related to an incident wherein a senior officer of Delhi Police was briefing police personnel at the protest site and also encouraging them to tackle the situation properly, the prosecution said.

Regarding the video posted by Ram, the judge said, “I have personally seen the video in the courtroom wherein evidently a senior police officer of Delhi Police is raising slogans, in a very agitated tone, and a group of Delhi Police personnel are seen standing beside him.”

“The background voices also suggest a very charged up atmosphere. It was informed by the investigating officer that the accused were not the author of the said post and they had merely forwarded it,” he said.

Court granted bail

The court granted bail to both the accused persons on a bail bond of Rs 50,000 each and two sureties of like amount each, noting their custodial interrogation was no longer sought by the police.

Regarding the allegation of forgery, the court observed that the prosecution failed to point out the creation of any false document in the instant case.

“I fail to understand as to how come the offence of forgery is attracted in the instant case unless there is some false document, as statutorily defined under section 464 (forgery) of IPC, is created by anyone,” the judge said.

Regarding the allegation of spreading rumours, the judge said that “the allegations against the accused of commission of the offence punishable under Section 505 IPC seems to bear force but that is a bailable offence.”

The accused had submitted that they were falsely implicated in the present case.

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