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.

Seema Azad, Vishwavijay step out of Allahabad Jail


 

 

By Ajit Sahi8/7/12, Newzfirst

 

ALLAHABAD – Human rights activists and journalists Seema Azad and her husband, Vishwavijay, Tuesday stepped out of Allahabad‘s prison 30 months after they were arrested on February 6, 2010 on charges of being Maoist rebels.

“This was sudden and unexpected,” a beaming Azad told her parents, siblings and friends of the decision of the Allahabad High Court a day earlier to grant them bail.

The duo had been convicted on June 8 of the charges and sentenced to life in prison. But the high court judges, Dharnidhar Jha and Ashokpal Singh, wrote that “no evidence of waging war against state was available”, and granted them bail.

The family had waited for an hour outside the jail in the rain before Azad and Vishwavijay stepped out. She touched the feet of her parents who were both visibly quiet and smiling. As if on cue, the rain had stopped by then.

Azad and Vijay, wife and husband, were given life imprisonment each on June 8 by a sessions court here. The judge had found them guilty of being members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The couple denied the charge.

Police here had arrested the duo on February 6, 2010 as Azad returned from New Delhi where she was visiting An international book fair. Her husband, who had gone to fetch her from the railway station, too, was arrested.

They were charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The prosecution claimed banned seditious literature had been found on the couple.

 

PUCL on conviction of Seema Azad and her husband by an Allahabad Court


PEOPLE’S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES

Founder: Jayaprakash Narayan

270-A Patparganj, Opposite Anandlok Apartments, Mayur Vihar– Phase I, Delhi 110091


12th  June, 2012
Press Release

          On the Conviction of Seema Azad and her husband by an Allahabad Court

The news of the sentencing of Seema Azad, along with her husband Vishwavijay Kamal, charged under Sections 121, 121A and 120B of IPC and also under the relevant provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for possessing objectionable literature, to life imprisonment by a court at Allahabad on 8 June 2012 has come as a shock to the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) and thousands of human rights workers all over the country.

Seema Azad, a grassroots journalist and a well known civil liberties activist belonging to the UP State Branch of the PUCL, was returning after attending a book fair in New Delhi along with her husband when they were arrested by the Special Task Force on February 6, 2010 from the Allahabad station, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, for their alleged links with Maoist organizations. The only evidence provided was a book carried by Seema Azad containing information on Maoist politics. From then on, they have been detained in custody, and have been refused bail.

It is clear to human rights activists that Seema Azad and her husband were charged under the draconian laws for political reasons. She has relentlessly raised her voice against local scams and injustices, denouncing the working condition of mining workers, exposing the practices of the local mafia and its nexus with the police force. She also edited a bi-monthly magazine – Dastak – and used it as a platform to publicize all the wrongs around her.

“On a number of occasions, she (Seema Azad) had taken up the cudgels on behalf of poor labourers and exposed the nexus between the police and the illegal contractors, who used to deploy labourers for unauthorised mining of stone or sand in various regions of Uttar Pradesh, particularly the Sonbhadra district,” PUCL UP Vice-President Ram Kumar said in a statement.

It has become a trend for the governments to book those, who criticize their anti-people policies and expose the misdeeds of politicians-police-bureaucrats and mafia nexus or give voice to the exploited, suffering, disinherited masses, under the most stringent laws, brand them as anti-national or Maoists and keep their voices muzzled by incarcerating them. What is even more miserable is that the judiciary, which is supposed to be the protector of the freedom and liberties of the people, also fails to do so. And the worst is that those who book innocent people on false and concocted charges always go unpunished even when higher courts reverse the judgment and set them free, of course, when they have already spent several years of their prime life in prisons. Seema Azad and her husband’s case has again brought these questions into focus and for all freedom loving people and human rights workers to take up the cause.

The PUCL plans to hold a convention shortly and also carry out a campaign for the release and justice of Seema Azad with other organisations.

Mahi Pal Singh

National Secretary, PUCL

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