Aseem Trivedi case: Mere criticism is not sedition, says Maha govt
Mumbai: Having burnt its fingers over the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, Maharashtra government on Friday 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 N M 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.
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