State states criteria for slapping sedition charge

Proposes seeking legal opinion in writing 15 days before.

Written by Express News Service | Published: October 20, 2012 12:35:11 am

Proposes seeking legal opinion in writing 15 days before.

The state government has proposed that police seek written legal opinion from the concerned district law officer and the public prosecutor two weeks before they invoke sedition charges against a person.

In a six-point draft circular submitted to the court by Advocate General D J Khambata,the state government stated that the criteria for invocation of the sedition charge is that “words,signs or representations must bring the government into hatred or contempt or must cause or attempt to cause disaffection,enmity or disloyalty to the government. They must be incitement to violence or must be intended to create public disorder….”

The draft circular elaborates on limitations and parameters for invocation of sedition charge under section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code.

Maharashtra,which attracted nation-wide criticism for slapping Kanpur-based cartoonist Aseem Trivedi with the sedition charge,had on October 12 told the High Court that it had decided to drop the charge.

The High Court had earlier ordered Trivedi’s release on bail.

The draft further states,“Comments expressing disapproval or criticism of the government with a view to obtaining change of government by lawful means are not seditious under section 124-A of IPC. Obscenity or vulgarity should also not be taken into account under this charge.”

The draft stated that representations against politicians or public servants by themselves do not fall in this category that attracts the sedition charge,unless they are shown as representatives of the government.

The charge would apply to representations or words that incite violence or are intended “to create public disorder or reasonable apprehension of public disorder.”

Khambata argued that the sedition charge is still a valuable tool against terrorism and naxalism.

Citing various examples,however,Khambata said the scope of the section cannot be restricted only to acts of violence.

Although the sedition charge against Trivedi has been dropped,he will face charges under National Honour Act,1971 and Information Technology Act,2000 over three of his seven cartoons that were found objectionable,the state government had told the court.

When it applies,when it doesn’t

Words,signs or representations must bring the government into hatred or contempt or must cause or attempt to cause disaffection,enmity or disloyalty to the govt

Words,signs or representations must be incitement to violence or must be intended to create public disorder or reasonable apprehension of public disorder

Words signs or representations against politicians or public servants by themselves do not fall in this category unless they are shown as representatives of the government

Comments expressing disapproval or criticism of the government with a view to obtaining change of government by lawful means,without any of the above,are not seditious under section 124-A (of the IPC)

Obscenity or vulgarity not to be taken into account.

Legal opinion in writing giving reasons should be obtained from the law officer of the district followed by opinion of public prosecutor within two weeks.

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