A Delhi court Tuesday dismissed an application seeking registration of an FIR on charges of sedition against Delhi University students and student leaders, accused of raising anti-national slogans during the violence in February this year. The court, however, emphasised that people who dare threaten the integrity of the country “need to be dealt with an iron hand”. The violence had broken out following an invite to JNU students’ union leaders Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid to an event titled ‘Culture of Protest’ at Ramjas College.
On Tuesday, Metropolitan Magistrate Abhilash Malhotra said, “It is patent that there can never be two opinions that those who dare to threaten integrity of the country need to be dealt with iron hands. A citizen is morally and constitutionally bound to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India. One has to be indebted to his/her motherland and make sincere contribution for its development.”
The court added, “Our constitution recognises freedom of speech and expression, but it is not absolute. In mature democratic society like ours, a sincere and fair criticism is always a euphony and benediction, as it leads to refinement of policies and transformation of systems. But hate speeches/sloganeering inciting the innocuous and threatening the unity and integrity of the country cannot be permitted to be donned in the attire of freedom of speech and expression. The veil needs to be pierced and slitted.”
Referring to the role of teachers, the court said that “creation and destruction both play in laps of a mentor, and he/she should carve the minds of students with chisel of principles of freedom struggle, i.e. Satya, Ahimsa, Swaraj, Sarvodaya and Antyodaya”.
“The principles, if imbibed and followed like apostles, will never let one falter from the path of righteousness,” the court said.
The court also cited former Karnataka Chief Minister K Hanumanthaiah’s submission before the constituent assembly during a discussion on fundamental rights in 1948, which stated: “No man who believes in violence and who wants to upset the state and society by violent methods should be allowed to have his way under the colour of these rights.”
The court was hearing a petition filed by activist and BJP member Vivek Garg, who alleged that anti-national slogans were raised during the Ramjas violence, and that the organisers of the event, “in collusion with others, misled the administration by unlawfully obtaining permission and… conducted anti-national activity and tried to wage war against the country”.
The application also stated that the event was organised as part of “pre-planned conspiracy to support terror activities of Kashmiri militants, Naxals and Pakistan”. Garg had also submitted a CD purportedly containing audio-video records.
But the court placed on record the Delhi Police’s report, which had earlier said that the videos appeared “doctored”. “When the authenticity of the audio-video footage is doubtful and when the complainant himself is not able to vouch for its credibility, it will be premature to issue any direction for addition of sedition charges,” the court said.