PIL Against Cartoonist Dismissed by Bombay High Court

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Bombay High dismissed a PIL filed in pursuance to the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on September 2012, alleged to instigate sedition through his cartoons. The PIL was filed by a lawyer, Mr Sanskar Marathe alleging the cartons insulted the National Emblem and Indian parliament.

 Aseem Trivedi, Kanpur based cartoonist who is a strong associate of anti corruption crusader, Anna Hazare, drew the cartoons in relation to the anti- graft movement that aroused a high degree of mixed public response. While granting his bail on 2012 Court rebuked the police arrest stating that, “it was on frivolous ground and without application of mind.”

The Division Bench presided by Justice Mohit Shah and G S Kulkarni observed that citizens have every right to criticize measures of Government verbally or in writing as long as it does not create violence or problems in law and order. The court further stated in the ruling that the cartoons did not invoke any wit or humor other than displayed anger and disgust. Though it displayed such negatives it does not mean it invokes sedition charges that initiate violence and public disorder.

Court observed that soon after the filing of PIL the Maharashtra Government strategised draft containing guidelines circulated in police stations directing them to initiate actions based on guide lines in cases of similar nature in future. Court directed Government authorities to circulate the said guidelines to all authorities concerned apart from the police stations.

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The guidelines drafted by the Maharashtra Government stated various grounds before adducing sedition charges against a person.

The circular directs the police to get legal opinion in written from legal officer concerned and it should be followed by the public prosecutor before the charging of sedition against a person. The guide lines direct that obscenity or vulgarity will come under the purview of sedition charge. The charge could be invoked only if an act creates disaffection, hatred, enmity, disloyalty to the Government and it incites violence to create public disorder. Words, signs of representations against public servants or politicians do not attract the charge of sedition.

The circular further directs that section 124(a) of IPC cannot be invoked as charge of sedition for any comments shows express disapproval or criticism to the Government with a view to bring change in Governmental measures through lawful means.

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by Dhanya R.