Updated: February 17, 2021 7:37:44 am
THE LAW of sedition “is a powerful tool in the hands of the state” and “cannot be invoked to quieten the disquiet under the pretence of muzzling the miscreants”, a Delhi court observed while granting bail to two men facing that charge for allegedly sharing a Facebook post on the Delhi Police during the farmers’ protest.
Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana made the observations Monday while granting bail to the accused, Devilal Burdak and Swaroop Ram, who were charged under sections of sedition, statements conducing to public mischief, forgery, and using forged documents.
In his order, ASJ Rana noted: “The law of sedition is a powerful tool in the hands of the state to maintain peace and order in the society. However, it cannot be invoked to quieten the disquiet under the pretence of muzzling the miscreants.”
The judge noted: “Evidently, law proscribes any act which has a tendency to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence. In the absence of any exhortation, call, incitement or instigation to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence or any allusion or oblique remark or even any hint towards this objective, attributable to the applicant accused, I suspect that Section 124 A IPC (sedition) can be validly invoked against the applicant. In my considered opinion, on a plain reading of the tagline attributed to the applicant/accused, invocation of Section 124 A IPC is a seriously debatable issue.”
Burdak and Ram have been in judicial custody since February 4 and 5, respectively. Burdak works in a finance company while Ram is a labourer.
The prosecution alleged that Burdak shared a “fake video” on his Facebook page with the tagline, “Delhi Police mae bagawat 200 policekarmiyon ne diya samuhik istifa (There is a rebellion in Delhi Police and around 200 police personnel have given mass resignation)”.
The prosecution argued that the “video was related to an incident wherein some persons in Khaki (Home Guard personnel) was agitating in respect of their grievances with Jharkhand Government….”
But referring to the video, which was played during the hearing, the court noted that “a senior police officer of Delhi Police is raising slogans, in a very agitated tone, and a group of Delhi Police personnel are seen standing beside him”. It noted that the “background voices also suggest a very charged up atmosphere”.
The court was informed by the Investigating Officer that the applicant is “not the author of the said post and he has merely forwarded it”.
Burdak’s lawyer, Surendra Chaudhary, told the court that the “material alleged against the accused is innocuous in nature and it is in fact an expression of emotions uttered in disagreement with government policies. It is further submitted that no offence of sedition or forgery is made out in the instant case”.
During arguments, ASJ Rana told the police: “I fail to understand as to how come the offence of forgery is attracted in the instant case unless there is some false document…the prosecution has failed to point out any representation or endeavor on the part of the applicant/accused to cast an impression that the Facebook Page was made, executed or created under the authority of some other person with whose authority it was not made or executed.”
The court, however, clarified that its observations will not have a bearing on the merits of the case.
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