New Delhi: As the arrest of Kanpur-based cartoonist Aseem Trivedi by Mumbai Police sparked protests across the nation, Supreme Court lawyer and India Against Corruption (IAC) member Prashant Bhushan on Monday alleged that the ruling UPA Government has developed a fascist bent of mind for it unnecessarily targets all those highlighting the issue of corruption or fracas that took place inside the Parliament.
Bhushan charged the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre of suppressing all voices fighting against the rampant corruption in the country.
"Whenever whistleblowers or other political activists are highlighting the issue of corruption or highlight all kinds of fracas which takes place inside the Parliament, instead of dealing with that they want to silence the voices of all those people who are highlighting it," said Bhushan.
"Therefore, it shows that the government and those who are in the establishment are developing a fascist bent of mind," he added.
Responding to a poser on whether he would provide legal assistance to the cartoonist, Bhushan said that Aseem Trivedi has already said that he does not want or need legal assistance. He has not even asked for bail.
"He has made it a political issue. So, it is a political issue, which needs to be fought politically. However, if he needs any legal help, certainly we will provide the legal help," he added.
When asked whether the charges of sedition levelled against Aseem were justified, Bhushan said: "Certainly not, whether one thinks that his cartoons are in good taste or not is a matter of opinion. But even if they are not in good taste, nobody can say that they are seditious or inciting violence to people to overthrow the state. It`s absurd."
Trivedi, who was arrested by the Mumbai Police on Saturday for allegedly posting seditious and obscene content on his website which has now been blocked, has been sent to judicial custody till September 24.
The cartoonist`s supporters, however, allege that his arrest is politically motivated and that he is being punished for backing Anna Hazare`s anti-corruption campaign.
The chairman of Press Council of India (PCI), Justice Markandey Katju, earlier defended cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, who has been arrested on sedition charges for ``mocking the Constitution``.
Stating that the cartoonist has done nothing illegal, Justice Katju said these are occupational hazards, and politicians must learn to put up with them.
In a statement, he maintained that arresting a cartoonist or any other person who has not committed a crime, is itself a crime under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), as it is a wrongful arrest and wrongful confinement.
Trivedi, who was arrested on the on a private complaint filed by a lawyer in December last year that he had put up banners mocking the Indian Constitution during an Anna Hazare rally in Mumbai, was charged with sedition under Section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code, which is a non-bailable offence.
He was also charged under the IT Act and the 1971 National Emblem Act.
The cartoons by Trivedi reportedly depicted Parliament as a commode and showed the national emblem with wolves instead of lions.
The police claimed that Trivedi had earlier exhibited similar cartoons at a rally organised by India Against Corruption (IAC) at the MMRDA grounds in Mumbai in December 2011.