A Supreme Court bench on Wednesday referred Patidar leader Hardik Patel’s appeal against the invocation of sedition charge against him to another bench.
The bench of Justices V Gopala Gowda and Amitava Roy heard Patel’s lawyer Kapil Sibal for 45 minutes, before referring his case to some other bench. It did not assign any reason for the decision.
Before taking the decision, the two judges had a brief discussion after Sibal concluded his arguments and Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who was appearing for Gujarat government, was waiting for his turn.
“List the matter before another bench after obtaining necessary instructions from the Chief Justice of India,” said the court order.
The sedition charge was invoked against Patel for allegedly inciting a fellow activist to “beat up or kill” Gujarat policemen instead of committing suicide.
He moved the apex court after the high court refused to drop the charge.
In his argument, Sibal contended that the alleged inflammatory statement was not made from any public platform.
He pointed out that Patel was speaking to a fellow activist at the latter’s residence.
“You know how things spread because of TV now. Media captured this conversation and showed it on channels. In Karnataka, somebody said chop off the head of the chief minister, sedition is not filed. In Kashmir, there are separatists who say we don’t accept the Government of India but no sedition case has been filed. But Hardik is being made a victim. This is a great opportunity for this court to look at the matter and examine the contours of sedition charge,” said Sibal.
The senior lawyer argued that sedition charge can only be invoked when statements or acts disturb public order.
“He allegedly made this statement on October 3 and the FIR was lodged on October 18. No harm to public order was done in these 15 days,” he claimed.
Sibal also referred to the legal positions prevalent in the United Kingdom and the US, and said the offence of sedition has been abolished in England.
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