Mere criticism is not #sedition, govt says in draft guidelines #draconianlaws #justice


Published: Friday, Oct 19, 2012, 19:33 IST
Place: Mumbai | Agency: PTI

Having burnt its fingers over the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, the Maharashtra government today submitted a draft circular to the Bombay High Court, which says that a criticism of political leaders or government per se does not call for pressing of the charge of `sedition‘.

Advocate General Darius Khambata submitted a six-point circular to the division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice NM Jamdar during the hearing of public interest litigation filed by lawyer Sanskar Marathe against Trivedi’s arrest on sedition charge.Trivedi was arrested over some of his cartoons that allegedly insulted the national emblem and the Parliament.At an earlier hearing, high court had granted bail to Trivedi and come down heavily on the police for arresting him on “frivolous grounds” and “without application of mind”.

The government had also stated then that it was dropping the charge of sedition, and would come out with a circular specifying the limitations and parameters for application of sedition charge in future.The draft circular submitted today says that sedition charge would apply if the act creates disaffection towards the government and incites violence.

“Words, signs or representations must bring the government into hatred or contempt or must cause or attempt to cause disaffection, enmity or disloyalty to the government. They must be incitement to violence or must be intended to create public disorder….” it says.Words, signs of representations against politicians or public servants per se do not fall under the category of sedition.”Comments expressing disapproval or criticism of the government with a view to obtaining change of government by lawful means are not seditious under section 124 (a) of IPC.

Obscenity or vulgarity should also not be taken into account under this charge,” the circular reads.Further, says the circular, police officials should seek a legal opinion in writing from the law officer, followed by that of the public prosecutor, before applying sedition charge against any person.

The court today heard arguments of Khambata, Marathe and Trivedi’s lawyer advocate Mihir Desai on whether the HC needs to include any more guidelines. But no order was passed.Trivedi, though the sedition charge has been dropped, will still have to face a case under National Honor Act and Information Technology Act for three of his cartoons which were also put on internet.The Kanpur-based cartoonist, associated with Anna Hazare‘s anti-corruption movement, was arrested on September 8, which had led to public outcry.

Political Cartoonist doesn’t feel need to defend self #FOE #FOS #sedition


PTI PHOTO/SANTOSH HIRLEKAR

Vijay V Singh, Rebecca Samervel & Swati Deshpande, TNN | Sep 10, 2012, 06.07AM IST

KANPUR-based cartoonist Aseem Trivedi ( 25 ) reached Mumbai on Saturday morning and went to the BKC police stationto surrender and also inquire about the case against him.Last month, a BKC police team had gone to Kanpurto look for him. Its members questioned his father for a few hours on August 30 at a local police station, causing him mental harassment, according to Trivedi’s friends. When the cartoonist learned about this, he tried to contact the team, but its members did not respond to his calls, the friends said.After Trivedi surrendered, he was put in lockup for the night. His friends and India Against Corruption members were not allowed to meet him, a friend alleged. Trivedi was produced in court on Sunday afternoon.

When the magistrate asked him about his advocate, he said he was not engaging one. The prosecutor informed the court that Trivedi had insulted the national emblem in a cartoon and displayed it during an Anna Hazare rally at the MMRDA ground and on his website. The court then gave the police Trivedi’s custody. The next hearing is on September 16.

Former judges, lawyers and civil rights activists have criticized the police for arresting the cartoonist. In particular, they have condemned the duration of his custody.

“This is a very rare instance of such a thing happening,” said activist and advocate Mihir Desai. Observing that the case was not maintainable, high court Justice (retd) H Suresh said, “The charge of sedition is patently misused. In this case, what is sedition? Moreover, custody of seven days is fundamentally wrong (in this case). What further investigations will be conducted while keeping him in custody ? The cartoons, which speak for themselves, are investigation enough.”

Former IPS officer and now lawyer Y P Singh said that as per a Supreme Court ruling, arrests need not be made in cases of a technical nature. “The action of the police, which may not be legally incorrect, has certainly been undesirable. The police have acted in an excessive manner by applying sedition charges. At best, a weak case could have been made under the Prevention of Insults to Nation Honour Act.

“Further, to arrest a person on a weekend and produce him in court on a Sunday is regarded as mischievous . That is because if a matter is regarded as serious, it needs to be deliberated on in a regular court and not a holiday court.”

Shyama Kulkarni, trustee, Agni, said, “In a democracy, how can somebody be gagged like this? Are we heading towards a dictatorial state or towards a state of emergency? Trivedi is an artist and has a right to express himself.”

Kulkarni drew a comparison to the recent arrest of a professor in West Bengal for forwarding a cartoon on the state’s chief minister Mamata Banerjee. “Will anyone among us be arrested if we criticize those in power? Instead of charging an innocent cartoonist, arrest those who are selling our country. The right people are not being arrested.”

The cartoonist

Aseem Trivedi was born in 1987 in Kanpur Is a political cartoonist and activist Is 2012 recipient of ‘Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award’ of Virginia-based Cartoonists Rights Network International Started ‘Save Your Voice’ movement against internet censorship along with long-time friend Alok Dixit As freelance cartoonist, drew for newspapers and magazines Drew cartoons in support of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement and put them up in own website, which was blocked by police. Cartoons were discussed in Rajya Sabha

Aseem Trivedi’s crime

Sedition by insulting national symbols through cartoons Works in question are themed Cartoons Against Corruption. One depicts national emblem as comprising wolves in place of lions and the slogan Bhrashtameva Jayate in place of Satyameva Jayate

The complainant

Amit Katarnayea, legal advisor for a Mumbai-based non-governmental organization Wrote in police complaint in December 2011 that Trivedi put up banners mocking Indian constitution during Anna Hazare’s rally at Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) and uploaded obscene content on his website

Three charges, one draws life term

Section 124, Indian Penal Code |

Sedition. Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government, shall be punished with imprisonment for life

Section 66A, Information Technology Act |

Punishment for sending false or offensive messages through communication services for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will. Punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years

Section 2, Prevention of Insults to Nation Honour Act |

Whoever in any public place or in any other place within public view burns, mutilates, defaces, defiles, disfigures, destroys, tramples upon or otherwise shows disrespect to or brings into contempt (whether by words, either spoken or written, or by acts) the national flag or the constitution of India or any part thereof, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years

Kanpur-based , why did he surrender in mum?

Complaint against Aseem Trivedi was filed at BKC police station In August, BKC police team went to Kanpur to look for him and questioned his father on the 30th of the month Trivedi later tried to contact team, but failed He arrived in Mumbai on Saturday and went to BKC police station to inquire about the case. There he surrendered

Black armbands and cartoon stickers to protest Aseem’s arrest #sedition #FOE #saveyourvoice


 


Pockets of disgruntled citizens plan series of demonstrations after the cartoonist, who has been charged with sedition, was sent to police custody till September 16
Yogesh Sadhwani and Pooja Naik mirrorfeedback@indiatimes.com
The arrest of 25-year-old cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on charges of sedition is likely to spark a wave of protests, with organisers hoping the outpouring of anger will be similar to the large-scale demonstrations seen when Anna Hazare first launched his campaign for the Jan Lokpal bill 18 months ago.
Mumbai-based Trivedi was arrested by the BKC Police Station on Saturday evening following complaints about a series of anti-corruption cartoons that he had displayed at Anna Hazare’s rally a the MMRDA grounds in December. These cartoons were judged to have, among other things, insulted the constitution and several complaints were registered with the BKC cops.
On Sunday, a day after his arrest, the Bandra court remanded him to police custody till September 16. He refused to hire a lawyer and, according to eye-witnesses, did not defend himself.
As news of his arrest spread, the city’s blow-hot-blow-cold response to the battle against corruption seemed to get second wind, fuelled as it was by a restriction on a cartoonist’s freedom of expression.
Several groups of people Mumbai Mirror spoke to, including but not restricted to India Against Corruption which backed Hazare’s campaign, had hit the drawing board to plan a series of protests against Trivedi’s arrest.
IAC volunteers have already sent the offending cartoons to be printed as stickers and plan to have these distributed on Tuesday. On Monday, they will distribute black armbands to citizens across the city asking them to join the protest.
“The government is doing everything possible to muffle voices raised against them — from reducing number of SMSes, to blocking twitter accounts and now arresting Trivedi,” IAC’s Mayank Gandhi said.
Joining in the black band protest will be the Oshiwara Lokhandwala Citizens Association and the Gulmohar Residents Association in Juhu, both of which Ashoke Pandit is associated with. “The government has sent out a clear signal with his arrest that if you do or say anything anything against us, you will be gagged. It is a shame,” Pandit said.
Shyama Kulkarni of AGNI too announced that they would take part in the protest. “In India, freedom of expression is provided in our constitution. A cartoonist has some more liberty on that front,” she said.
One of Trivedi’s controversial cartoons shows a dog, resembling Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Qasab, peeing on the Indian constitution. Another one has the national emblem, but with wolves’ heads instead of lions. A third shows the Indian parliament shaped like a toilet, and another is a depiction of Mother India being molested by politicians.
Trivedi has been charged with sedition under Section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code, a non-bailable offence, and also under the IT Act and the 1971 National Emblem Act.
Senior Advocate Amit Desai said he didn’t think the case merited application of charges of sedition.
“While being a cartoonist gives him some license to make a comment, the cartoon for which he has been apparently arrested certainly seems to be offensive. Yet, I don’t think this case merits application of sedition charges and it could have been dealt with other sections in the IPC, apart from the IT Act. Sedition is a very serious charge, something which is not levied on a daily basis,” he said.
Alok Tripathi, a friend and fellow activist, told Mumbai Mirror that the cops had not only blocked Trivedi’s website a few months ago, but also visited his ancestral home in Kanpur and took his father to the local police station for questioning.
“After his website was blocked, Aseem has been fighting for his right of freedom of speech on the net through the Save your Voice campaign which is against censorship of freedom on the internet,” Tripathi said.
“On August 30, a Mumbai police team reached at Aseem’s Kanpur home and took his father for questioning, and told him a non-bailable warrant had been issued for his son. As soon as Aseem heard about this, he decided to head back to Mumbai and head to the police station,” he added.
“In court, Aseem did not say a word to defend himself. It’s probably his way of protesting against the system,” one of the India Against Corruption (IAC) volunteers who was present during the hearing said.
ABOUT ASEEM TRIVEDI
Born and raised in Kanpur, Aseem Trivedi turned to political cartooning after completing a BA from Kanpur University. He joined Anna Hazare’s movement in 2011. He shared the Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI)’s Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award (2012) with Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, who is on the Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people.
SHOWS GOVT’S INSECURITIES
We have always stood for fights for freedom of expression. Anyone saying anything against corruption is being tagged as a anti-national here. It is unfair.
PREETI SHARMA MENON IAC volunteer
His cartoons seem to be more like an expression of anger. However, arresting a cartoonist under charges of sedition for his work shows the high-handedness of the government and its insecurities.
HEMANT MORPARIA cartoonist
Mocking some ministers by creating funny cartoons does not amount to sedition. It is too serious an allegation. If he has disrespected the national flag, there is a seperate law he can be tried under.
PRADEEP PASBOLA senior counsel
Aseem Trivedi outside Bandra court on Sunday

 

In support of Aseem Trivedi, now being tried in India for sedition for drawing cartoons


 

On September 9, 2012, in IndiaLiberty, by Sanjeev Sabhlok
I had never heard of Aseem Trivedi before, but I am shocked to read today that he has beenarrested and will be tried for SEDITION! – for what? For cartoons that depict his anger at the massive corruption by the Indian government. [Also see this news of his arrest.]

Apparently, in India, it is criminal to depict the state for what it is: a monster that is sucking up the blood of the people of India.

I myself had depicted this in 1975:

In my view (depicted in this picture) Indira Gandhi had disemboweled the poor even as she pretended to care for them. I was 15 years old when I made this. Seditionist? No. I had a strong sense of integrity even then, and strongly cared for India. To care for your nation is NOT sedition.

Apparently Trivedi has shown disrespect to national symbols. But what about those who LOOT the country? Are they showing respect merely because they are escorted by Z level security?

What is more important: symbols or reality?

In my view the government of India is showing the GREATEST disrespect to national symbols. Trivedi has got it right. The socialists have racked India and made tens of private mansions for each of themselves in the name of the poor. They have destroyed truth. They have destroyed liberty.

Trivedi’s website has already been shut down by the Indian government. Unfortunately, for the Indian government (and governments worldwide) the Pandora’s box of liberty – the internet – has been opened and no one can shut it down. Liberty will triumph.

In support of Aseem Trivedi, I’m re-publishing all his cartoons that I can find on the internet. If I’ve missed any please send them over.

I hope people like Shailesh will try to understand this – that democracy is NOT God. It is NOT a sufficient condition for the defence of liberty. It is a step towards that journey but that journey requires strong leaders to join politics and cut the ever-extending reach of the government. Only vigorous defence of liberty can save India’s democracy from degenerating into tyranny. Not PR. Let’s get the priorities right. We need leaders RIGHT NOW, to defeat the current government (and opposition!), and establish a new order based on liberty. Instead of idle debates, it is time for action.

DISCLAIMER: BY POSTING ASEEM’S CARTOONS I DO NOT MEAN TO EXPRESS ANY ENDORSEMENT OF HIS STYLE (WHICH IS VERY AGGRESSIVE). BUT I BELIEVE THIS WORK IS NOT SEDITIOUS. IT IS WELL WITHIN THE FREE RIGHT OF ANY POLITICAL CARTOONIST ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD TO PRESENT THE POLITICAL SITUATION AS HE SEES IT. THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA MUST GET USED TO THE IDEA THAT PEOPLE ARE ENTITLED TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES EVEN IN OFFENSIVE WAYS.

Sanjeev Sabhlok

===THE CARTOONS==

 

Republican Party of India, Amit Katarnayea, had filed a complaint against Trivedi #FOE #Sedition


 

Cartoonist Trivedi remanded to police custody

PTI

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Kanpur-based cartoonist Aseem Trivedi arrested on charges of posting seditious contents on his website being produced at court in Mumbai on Sunday.
PTIKanpur-based cartoonist Aseem Trivedi arrested on charges of posting seditious contents on his website being produced at court in Mumbai on Sunday.

Kanpur based cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, arrested for allegedly posting seditious content on his website, was today remanded to police custody till September 16 by a local court.

Trivedi, who was arrested on Saturday on the basis of a complaint filed in December, was produced before a court in Bandra which remanded him to police custody till September 16.

Police had sought his custody to question him on the contents on his website and other charges. The court had issued a non-bailable warrant against him last month.

A member of Republican Party of India, Amit Katarnayea, had filed a complaint against Trivedi that the latter had put up banners mocking the Indian constitution during the Anna Hazare rally held last year at the Bandra Kurla Complex. It was also alleged that he had put the obscene content on his website.

Outside the court, a defiant Trivedi said, “If telling the truth makes me traitor then I am one. Even Mahatma Gandi was called traitor and if I am booked under sedition for doing service to the nation then I will continue to do so.”

While police officers said that he had shown disrespect to the National flag and he was arrested under 124A of the Indian Penal Code for sedition besides various sections of the Information Technology Act.

Trivedi was due to fly to Syria on Wednesday to receive a cartooning award.

“If anyone is talking against corruption, proclaiming it as anti-national and slamming charges of sedition, one needs to understand that this is against the government and not against the country,” said Mayank Gandhi, a member of IAC.

He said further said that Trivedi was not a member of the IAC “but is fighting corruption and we are here to give him moral support”.

 

Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi held on sedition charge for ‘mocking the constitution’


NDTV, MUMBAI

The police insist that the arrest is a procedural formality, saying they have acted on a complaint. The First Information Report states that the accused had put ‘ugly and obscene content’ on his website.

“He has shown disrespect to the National flag and therefore he has been arrested under section 124 A,” said Chandrakant Bhosale, Senior Inspector, Mumbai Police.
The arrest comes at a time when Mr Trivedi was scheduled to visit Syria to collect the 2012 Courage in Editorial cartooning award. He was scheduled to fly on September 12.

“If telling the truth makes one a traitor, then I am happy. Likewise even Gandhi, Bhagat Singh are traitors. If while doing service to the nation I am booked under sedition, I will continue to do so and get arrested,” Mr Trivedi said today.

AK Khan, a friend of Mr Trivedi, alleged that the cartoonist is being repeatedly manhandled since his arrest. India Against Corruption or IAC, which has been attacking the government over a series of alleged scams, has lent support to Mr Trivedi, saying the arrest is politically-motivated.

“If anyone is talking against corruption, proclaiming it as anti-national and slamming charges of sedition, one needs to understand that this (drawing cartoons) is against the government and not against the country,” said Mayank Gandhi, a member of IAC.

“He is not a member of IAC but is fighting against corruption and we are here to lend him moral support,” Mr Gandhi added.

“Whoever raises their voice against corruption is termed as a seditionist, anti-nationalist and a Naxalite,” said Preeti Menon, member IAC.

Political cartoonist arrested on sedition charges gets a week in police custody


 

Shivam Vij, Rediff.com, Sept 9, 2012

A holiday court in MumbaiImages ] on Sunday remanded anti-corruption cartoonist and free speech campaigner Aseem Trivedi to policy custody till September 16 for allegedly making cartoons that insult India‘s [ Images ] flag, Parliament and the national emblem. The order was given by the Bandra holiday court in Mumbai on Sunday morning. Trivedi was arrested when he surrendered on Saturday night at the Bandra Kurla Complexpolice station in Mumbai. He faces charges of sedition (under IPC section 124A), violation of section 66A of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, and the Prevention of Insults of National Honour Act, 1971.A team of Mumbai Police had earlier reached Trivedi’s home in Kanpur with a non-bailable warrant but returned to Mumbai as Trivedi is now based in Delhi [ Images ]. Trivedi himself contacted the BKC police station which asked him to reach Mumbai.

Several FIRs and court cases have been filed against Trivedi in Maharashtra [ Images ] for cartoons that he had displayed at the Jan Lokpal agitation in Mumbai in December 2011. The cartoons were also available on his website, www.cartoonsagainstcorruption, whose registration was suspended by web company Big Rock after a notice from Mumbai police, in December 2011.

Speaking on the phone from Mumbai just before his arrest on Saturday night, Trivedi explained that the cartoons intended to display the insult to the nation that is being done by politicians, and do not seek to insult national symbols in any way.

The controversial cartoons are still available at www.cartoonsagainstcorruption.blogspot.com. One cartoon titled, ‘Gang rape of Mother India’ shows a ‘Mother India’ dressed in a tri-colour sari, with politicians and bureaucrats about to assault her, with a gleeful beast standing by described as ‘Corruption’. One cartoon shows India’s national emblem, the Ashoka Lions, with foxes rather than lions. In the inscription on the emblem, the words ‘Satyamev Jayate‘ are replaced with ‘Brashtamev Jayate’ (meaning corruption alone triumphs) and a danger sign.

A cartoon calling for the “right to recall” elected representatives in mid-term shows Parliament as a sewage collection centre into which flows waste from several toilets — or, polling booths. Another cartoon simply shows Parliament as a ‘national toilet’. Another cartoon shows 26/11 gunman Ajmal Kasab [ Images ] as a dog peeing on the Constitution of India. Some cartoons target Congress leader Digvijaya Singh for his statements against the Jan Lokpal movement.

Trivedi has for the moment refused to hire a lawyer and does not intend to apply for bail. “I want to first see how a British-era law like sedition is going to be applied against a cartoonist in free India,” he said.

One of the main complainants, Amit Katarnawre, 27, said on the phone from Mumbai that he had filed an FIR at the BKC police station in Mumbai and had just last week met senior police officials to press charges against Trivedi.

Katarnawre said he was offended by the cartoons as they, in his view, intentionally desecrated India’s national symbols. He was particularly disturbed by the cartoon that shows Kasab as a dog peeing on the Constitution. “As a Buddhist my religious sentiments were hurt by the cartoon that uses the Ashokan lion pillar, as Emperor Ashoka was a Buddhist,” he added.

Katarnawre is an employee of Central Railway and a Dalit. He says he is not a member of any political party but is ideologically an Ambedkarite who could not stand the Constitution being desecrated. He said Trivedi should be interrogated to ascertain the role of all members of Team Anna in the display of the cartoons at the MMRDA grounds.

Apart from sedition, Katarnawre has also charged Trivedi with Section 66A of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008, which punishes persons for “sending messages” online that are “grossly offensive” or have a “menacing character”.

A third law used against Trivedi is the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act,1971, which provides for punishment up to three years in jail and a fine for insulting or defacing the Indian flag and the Indian Constitution. It adds, however, ‘Comments expressing disapprobation or criticism of the Constitution or of the Indian National Flag or of any measures of the government with a view to obtain an amendment of the Constitution of India or an alteration of the Indian National Flag by lawful means do not constitute an offence under this section.’

Trivedi, 25, says he is within his rights as an artist to use national symbols to show how they are being insulted by politicians. He was a freelance cartoonist working with local dailies in Kanpur before he got involved with the Anna Hazare movement.

After his website was shut down in December 2011, Trivedi became associated with the Anna Hazare-led India Against Corruption movement and also started an independent initiative to campaign against internet censorship. Called ‘Save Your Voice’, he travelled across India to raise awareness against the IT Rules 2011.

Trivedi also sat on a seven-day hunger strike in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to protest the IT Rules in May this year, and displayed anti-corruption cartoons at the Anna Hazare protest in Jantar Mantar in August 2012.

The Virginia, US-based Cartoonists Rights Network International have named him the 2012 recipient of their ‘Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award’. He is sharing the award with Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat who was abducted and badly beaten by the Syrian regime in August last year. However, Trivedi will not be able to travel to receive the award as the United States has denied him a visa, although he is scheduled to travel to Vienna [ Images ] toparticipate in an art event later this month.

Images: (Top) Aseem Trivedi being escorted by the Mumbai police at the holiday court on Sunday; and (above), an activist addressed the media outside the court after Trivedi was remanded to police custody for a week

 

Award Winning Political Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi held for ‘obscene’ matter on net #sediton #FOE


Mumbai: The Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) police on Saturday arrested Kanpur cartoonist, Aseem Trivedi (25), for reportedly posting “ugly and obscene” content on his web portal and for putting up banners mocking the Indian Constitution during Anna Hazare’s anti-graft movement at the BKC ground in December last year.
Trivedi’s arrest has also stalled his trip to Syria to collect his Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) award. “The CRNI announced the winners of the 2012 Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award. The winners are Ali Ferzat fromSyria and Aseem Trivedi from India. He was supposed to fly to Syria on September 12. His arrest has ruined his travel plans and his visa application was also rejected,” said Trivedi’s colleague Alok Dixit.
Dixit said that Trivedi decided to present himself before the BKC police after a team reached Kanpur on August 30, took his father to the Kanpur police station and repeatedly questioned him.
“On Friday night, we boarded a train from Delhi and reached Mumbai. On reaching, the BKC police they arrested him,” he said. He said that the officials told Trivedi was booked under IPC’s Section 124 (A) (whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite
disaffection towards) and under the Information Technology Act 66 (A). He will be produced before the holiday court on Sunday.
Trivedi had told TOI in February, “The cartoons were in no way organized by the Hazare campaign.”
BACKGROUND 
 In Februray 2012,  The Bandra-Kurla Complex police has booked a Kanpur cartoonist, Aseem Trivedi (25), for reportedly posting “ugly and obscene” content on his web portal he owns and for putting up banners mocking the Indian Constitution during Anna Hazare’s anti-graft movement at the BKC ground in Decemberlast year.

The police registered the case recently after conducting a probe based on a complaint received from an RTI activist, who had appealed to the Bombay High Court to take action against those who tried to malign the Constitution.

DCP (operations) and Mumbai police spokespersonfor Mumbai police, Manohar Dalvi, confirmed a case had been registered against Trivedi. “Cartoons that caused the stir included an interpretation of the Indian national emblem, where four wolves stand in place of King Asoka’s Sarnath lions. Also, the message on the emblem reads Bhrashtamev Jayate (Long Live Corruption) instead of Satyamev Jayate.

The other controversial cartoons on the website included a bureaucrat appearing to assault a woman draped in a sari bearing the Indian tricolor, while a building, strikingly similar to the Indian Parliament, is labelled as the “National Toilet” in another cartoon,” Dalvi said.

Trivedi said, “The cartoons were in no way organized by the Hazare campaign.” Over the phone from Kanpur, Trivedi says his intention was not to mock the Indian Constitution but to “depict the ailing truth of the nation and send across a strong message to the masses”.

The BKC police have booked Trivedi under several sections of the IPC, including the State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act, 2005 and under Section 66 of the IT Act.

 

Political Cartoonist charged with #sedition ready to surrender


Sagnik Chowdhury, Posted: Sep 06, 2012 at 0325 hrs IST

Charged with sedition and insulting national emblems in his cartoons, Aseem Trivedi — a political cartoonist based in Kanpur — claims he will travel to Mumbai and surrender to the police in a couple of days. The Mumbai Police’s cyber wing had blocked Trivedi’s website, http://www.cartoonsagainstcorruption.com, last December, sparking a debate on freedom of expression in India.Cyber Crime police officers in Mumbai, however, said they “did not recall” such a case, as objectionable sites are blocked routinely by them.

Trivedi, 25, is a freelance cartoonist and 2012 recipient of the ‘Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award’ of Virginia-based Cartoonists Rights Network International. He shares the award with Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat who is on Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Controversial cartoons parodying national symbols and emblems were displayed by Trivedi during the anti-corruption protests led by Anna Hazare at the MMRDA grounds in BKC in December 2011, leading to private complaints being filed against him.

In January, a case of sedition was filed against him at the Beed district court. In another case before the Bombay High Court, Trivedi has been charged with insulting India’s national symbols under the State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act 2005, which attracts a two-year prison sentence and a fine up to Rs 5,000.

According to Trivedi, a Mumbai Police team visited his residence in Kanpur on August 30. “I was not at home, but my parents were taken to the local police station. By the time I reached the police station, the police team had left. It was only after I made calls to the Mumbai Police that I was told about a complaint filed by advocate Rajendra Pratap Yadav. The police did not send me any notice earlier,” Tiwari told Newsline.

One of Trivedi’s cartoons depicts the Parliament building as a toilet, while another shows the Asoka pillar, which has bloodthirsty wolves instead of the four lions and the words Bhrashtamev Jayate in place of Satyameva Jayate. Yet another, titled ‘Gang Rape of Mother India’ features ‘Mother India’ wearing a tri-colour sari, about to be raped by a character labeled ‘Corruption’.

“I am in New Delhi for some work at present. I intend to arrive in Mumbai in the next two days and surrender before the police. I will not seek anticipatory bail. If I am held guilty of sedition in my own country on account of my cartoons, then it’s better not to fight any case at all. We saw what happened at the Jaipur literary festival with regard to Salman Rushdie. In Kolkata, a professor was arrested for merely e-mailing a cartoon that poked fun at the CM. These incidents pose a serious threat to artists,” Trivedi said.

After his website was blocked by the Mumbai Police, Trivedi started ‘Save Your Voice’, a campaign for internet freedom. “On December 27, 2011, I came to know from the domain name registrar that my site had been blocked by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch. Later, I learnt that cases had been filed against me in the Beed district court and the HC. I have not received any notice,” said Trivedi.

A senior Crime Branch officer said, “I can’t recall the details of this case. We receive several complaints and routinely block websites.”

Nand Kishore More, senior inspector, Cyber police station, said, “I am not aware of the case.”

Indian Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi to be tried For Treason #sedition #WTFnews


Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, this year’s Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award winner (along with Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat) plans on turning himself over to the police in Mumbai in the next couple of days over controversial cartoons he posted on his web site that parody India’s national symbols.

Trivedi was charged in January with treason and insulting India’s national symbols, and if found guilty, he could face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 5,000 rupees (about $100).

In the cartoon below, Trivedi took India’s national emblem of the Four Sarnath Lions of King Asoka that sit above the motto “Satyamev Jayate” (truth alone shall triumph) and re-drew them as bloodthirsty wolves on the re-worded motto “Bhrashtamev Jayate” (long live corruption):

In another offending cartoon, Trivedi drew the Indian parliament building as a toilet:

There is a long tradition of editorial cartoonists using symbols of states to express opinions about governments. Drawing a legislature or parliament building as a toilet is common.  I recently drew our Capitol building in Washington as a toilet:

The offending cartoon below by Trivedi shows the “Mother of India” being held down by politicians and bureaucrats, about to be raped by corruption:

The Indian Constitution allows for “the right to freedom of speech and expression.” Trivedi’s critics argue that while he is allowed to mock and poke fun at politicans, it is a crime to mock the national emblem, the parliament and the Indian flag.

Read an interview that Trivedi gave to Cartoonist Rights Network International, here’s a quote:

“I am democratic. I am patriotic. I have a twenty-four year life without any charges of corruption. I am only making cartoons. … I am talking about nationalism. I love my country. I am reacting [to the corruption] in my own way. Someone is protesting. Somebody is a doing hunger strike in India. [As for me,] I am a cartoonist.”

There is a lot of sensitivity in India about cartoons that offend religious sensitivities, but cartoons that bash the state must be fair game. I would argue that editorial cartoonists must disrespect governments and symbols of governments as a professional obligation.