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Bombay High Court stayed the implementation of Circular on Sedition

Sep 25, 2015 11:13 IST

Bombay High Court on 22 September 2015 stayed the implementation of the circular on sedition that was issued in August 2015 in Marathi.

The circular was issued on 27 August 2015 to prevent misuse of Section 124 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) dealing with sedition and laid down certain conditions required to be considered for initiating action against a person under it.

The order, a setback to the Maharashtra government, was issued by a division bench of the HC headed by Justice VM Kanade.

In its order, it asked the state government to not to implement the circular till 20 October 2015 and asked the state to file a reply to two petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the circular.

Further, it stated that, if the state fails to file its reply by 20 October, the court would treat these petitions, as uncontroverted and decide them at the admission stage itself.

Grounds on which circular was challenged?

The circular was challenged one by famous cartoonist Aseem Trivedi and three others while the other one was challenged by advocate Narendra Sharma. According to them, the circular is unconstitutional and violated fundamental rights of citizens because

  • Some clauses of the circular issued were vague and contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court as well as High Courts.
  • Circular allegedly said that any citizen criticizing a public personality or a politician is responsible of an act of sedition. This ambiguity can be misused by the state against an individual citizen for fair criticism of politician or public personality and or against a fair criticism of their policies.
  • Circular, which is meant to prevent misuse of Sec 124A IPC does not mention even the basic ingredients required for invocation of this provision of law against any person.
  • Clause 1 and 2 of the circular does not even mention basic ingredients of sedition, that is, words (spoken or written), signs or representations must be made with object to overthrow or subvert the government (central or state) established by law by "violent means", by creating feeling of contempt or hatred or disaffection against it or by bringing or attempting to bring into hatred or contempt towards it or by exciting or attempting to excite disaffection towards it.
  • Clause 1 and 2 of the circular also does not mention that "apprehension or anticipated danger" must be based on reasonable ground that the danger apprehended is real and imminent.

The circular of August 27 was issued following the release of the cartoonist Trivedi and dropping of sedition charges against him. He was arrested on 8 September 2012 under Section 124A of IPC on sedition charges for cartoons published on India Against Corruption website.

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