Kerala high court on Monday granted bail to a youth, who was arrested and slapped with sedition charge because he did not stand up during the national anthem in a movie theatre.
M Salman, 25, was charged under section 124 A of the IPC (sedition) for allegedly “sitting and hooting” when the national anthem was being played at a movie theatre on August 18. He also faced charges under section 66 A of the IT Act for allegedly posting a derogatory comment about the national flag on Facebook.
Salman was arrested on August 20. Five others were also facing the sedition charge. One of them had obtained anticipatory bail three weeks back.
While granting the bail, single bench of Justice A Hariprasad observed that there was no offence amounting to the security of the nation against the alleged accused. The prosecution has not produced any report showing that Salman was involved in any criminal case.
The court ordered the release of Salman on bail on bond of two sureties of Rs 2 lakh each. He should not intimidate the witnesses or meddle in the investigation. Salman has to appear before the investigating officer twice in a week. He has to surrender his passport, if any, in the magistrate court.
Salman’s arrest on charges of sedition has created an outrage in Kerala from human rights activists. Reacting to the case, CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat has demanded that sedition charge (IPC 124 A) should be removed from the Indian Penal Code and the section 66 A of the IT Act be amended to protect the freedom of speech in social media.
In an article in CPI (M) mouthpiece Deshabhimani on Thursday, Karat said as long as section 124 A continues in the Indian Penal Code, it (the sedition charge) would be used for wrong purposes. The IT act should be amended to prevent the suppression of social media and protect the freedom of expression in internet.