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Monday, September 20, 2021

‘Commission of offence of sedition doubtful’: Sirsa court on arrest of farmers

Cases registered against farmers for disrupting Khattar's event in Hisar on May 16 also closed

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
Updated: July 23, 2021 5:09:26 pm
FarmersIn pic, farmers protest against sedition case filed against them by Haryana police, in Sirsa. After the release of the five farmers, various farmer organisations that had blocked several roads in Sirsa district lifted their dharna and moved back to their earlier protest sites. (Express photo)

The Sessions Court, Sirsa, while releasing the five farmers who were arrested by Sirsa district police on sedition charges for allegedly attacking the convoy of Vidhan Sabha Deputy Speaker Ranbir Gangwa on July 11, said that “at the most offence under Section 308 IPC (attempt to commit culpable homicide) is attracted in the present case”. It further added that “commission of offence of sedition under Section 124-A IPC in the present case is doubtful”.

Those arrested and now out on bail include Sahab Singh (20) of Khairpur village; Daljit Singh (32) of Ranga village; Balkar Singh (25), Mitta Singh (44), and Balkaur Singh (43), all residents of Faggu village in Sirsa district.

After the release of the five farmers, various farmer organisations that had blocked several roads in Sirsa district lifted their dharna and moved back to their earlier protest sites.

In the detailed order that was made available today, Sirsa’s District and Sessions Judge Rajesh Malhotra observed, “I am satisfied with the contention of Ld. Counsel for the applicants that at the most offence under Section 308 IPC is attracted in the present case. The applicants are not named in the complaint. The fact that two leaders who had organised the protest are absconding is no ground to dismiss the present bail application as their arrest is likely to take time as they have no control over them. Hence, in the facts and circumstances of the present case, applicants are permitted to be enlarged on bail on furnishing their personal bonds in the sum of Rs.50,000 each with one surety in the like amount each to the satisfaction of this Court”.

Besides various other offences punishable under the Indian Penal Code, the Haryana Police has made out a case of sedition and attempt to murder on two farmer leaders Harcharan Singh Panjuana and Prahlad Singh Bharukhera and ”90/100 others” for attacking Gangwa’s vehicle with “dandas of their flags and pelting stones” on July 11.

The Public Prosecutor, while opposing the bail application of the accused, pleaded on the ground that the accused with other unknown persons “committed the heinous offence of sedition against the state government and also made an attempt to eliminate Shri Ranbir Singh Gangwa, Hon’ble Deputy Speaker, Haryana Government by throwing stones and thereby caused injuries to many police officials and damaged official car of Shri Ranbir Singh Gangwa”.

The public prosecutor further submitted, “even though the present applicants are not named in the FIR, but they are clearly visible in various videos. Shri Harcharan Singh Panjuana and Prahlad Singh Bharukhera are absconding and, hence, the present bail application may kindly be dismissed”.

However, counsel for the accused contended that the accused were falsely implicated in the case. “They are not named as culprits in the alleged complaint. From bare perusal of complaint, it is clear that the state government and the state machinery were aware of the farmers protest and the warning that they will not allow any political function in the university, but even then Ranbir Singh Gangwa, Hon’ble Deputy Speaker, Haryana Government visited the university to incite the feelings of protesting farmers, which led to said incident. Admittedly the protesters were not carrying any arms to harm any person, but the situation turned volatile due to some miscreants for hurting the feelings of farmers by Shri Ranbir Singh Gangwa, who was presiding over the BJP camp of workers in Chaudhary Devi Lal University. Any educational institution cannot be used to propagate a political agenda as education institutions are sacred and secular. There is nothing on record that the present applicants ever participated in the protest or hurled tones as alleged”.

Opposing the sedition charge, the counsel for the accused further argued that, “a case of sedition is not attracted in the present case as there is nothing on record that said the incident could have led to overthrow of the state government but Section 124-A IPC is added to increase the gravity of the alleged offence. Even otherwise, Section 124-A IPC is vague and arbitrary as it gives discretionary power to the court to impose fine, or sentence up to three years with or without fine, or with life imprisonment with or without fine. Accordingly, this particular section is vague and ambiguous regarding sentencing and it cannot be invoked in every situation without there being any reasonable threat to the state government. Protest and general public opinion against the working of the state government and dtate machinery does not attract Section 124-A IPC in any manner”.

The counsel even argued that Section 307 was not correct in the present case. “Even Section 307 IPC is not attracted in the present case as from the facts of the case, there is nothing to presume that throwing of stones on a vehicle is so imminently dangerous that it must, in all probability, cause death or such bodily injury as it will likely cause death and accordingly, at the most, Section 308 IPC is attracted in the present case. Two leaders who had organized the protest are absconding is no ground to dismiss the present bail application as their arrest is likely to take time as they have no control over them”.

Cases against farmers for disrupting Khattar’s event in Hisar also withdrawn

On May 16, a large number of farmers and police personnel sustained injuries in the clash that took place near the venue in Hisar where Khattar had gone to inaugurate a makeshift Covid facility. Over 350 farmers were booked for multiple offences punishable under IPC. Farmers had lodged a strong protest demanding withdrawal of FIRs against them. Meetings were held between farmer union leaders and district administration of Hisar, in which the farmers had claimed that they were assured of withdrawal of criminal cases within a month’s time. In the recent development, a closure report was filed in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Hisar.

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