The Gujarat High Court (HC) on Thursday issued notices to the state government on a petition filed by the editor of a Gujarati news portal, who was slapped with sedition charges over a speculative political news report, seeking quashing of the FIR against him and stay on the investigation.
The editor, Dhaval Patel, was booked under Indian Penal Code Section 124 A for sedition and Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act (punishment for false warning) by the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) on May 11 for “trying to create unrest in society”, for allegedly writing and publishing a report on his portal on May 7 titled “Mansukh Mandaviya called by high command, chances of leadership change in Gujarat”.
Patel’s petition seeking setting aside of the FIR against him, filed through advocate Anand Yagnik, was opposed by the public prosecutor appearing for the state.
The state submitted that the investigation is ongoing and it would be premature to halt the investigation by granting interim relief.
Yagnik, representing Patel, argued that no case of sedition was made and as per existing SC and HC judgments, it is well established that for constituting an offence of sedition, the words have to indicate incitement of violence.
“All the petitioner has reported is a speculation that there might be change in the leadership because of the failure of the present leader to handle the corona crisis. Also, the same was put to rest when Mansukhbhai Mandaviya tweeted and clarified things,” said Yagnik.
Patel is in judicial custody at Sabarmati Central Jail after his arrest on March 12. He was remanded to police custody until morning of May 14.
The matter is expected to be heard further on May 26 while his application seeking bail before the sessions court is yet to be heard.