Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday said the controversial order related to sedition charges would be scrapped soon.
“My government believes in freedom of speech and expression. It has come to our notice that the government has invited flak unnecessarily for something that was not our doing. While translating a court order in Aseem Trivedi’s case, some error in Marathi gave the impression that the government was empowering police to gag critics,” Fadnavis said. He was speaking at a Google hangout session organised by the Loksatta.
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“I never signed any file issuing any draconian law. It came to me as a surprise when my government was accused of issuing a gag order. But I must make it clear it is pointless to give an explanation on something which was neither intended nor my doing. I have decided to scarp the controversial order,” he said.
The state, in an order dated August 27, gave the police powers to act against those critical of the state or Central government if it felt it was highly offensive. The order attracted flak as a bid to curb the freedom of speech.
The order allows police to invoke a colonial-era sedition clause — 124-A of the IPC. Although the home department clarified it had told the police criticism by legal means would not invite sedition under the IPC.
Earlier, the Bombay High Court, while dropping sedition charge against cartoonist Trivedi, had asked the state to issue guidelines on invoking the sedition clause. Mumbai police had arrested Trivedi in 2012 for drawing cartoons that allegedly insulted the national emblem and Parliament.