Allahabad: The Allahabad High Court has come down heavily on a judicial magistrate in Uttar Pradesh for initiating suo motu proceedings on sedition charges against Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for his comments on the Supreme Court verdict striking down the NJAC Act saying, he had committed a "manifest illegality".
"....This Court is of the firm opinion that none of the ingredients essential for invoking the provisions of Sections 124A or 505 of the Penal Code stood attracted to the article in question.
"The magistrate has committed a manifest illegality in forming an opinion that an offence under the above provisions stood prima facie committed," Justice J Yashwant Varma said in a 17-page order setting aside the order passed by Ankit Goel, Judicial Magistrate of Kulpahar, Mahoba district.
Taking suo motu cognisance of an article written by Jaitley on the apex court striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act and posted on his Facebook page titled "NJAC Judgement-An Alternative View", the magistrate proceeded to summon Jaitley under sections 124A (sedition) and 505 (statements conducive to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code.
Jaitley was summoned to appear before the court on Nov 19 against which he moved the high court seeking quashing of the proceedings of the Magistrate.
Justice Varma said the Magistrate appears to have closed his eyes to the well-settled view that healthy criticism or even intellectual disagreement with a particular view of a judge contained in a judgement of the court is not a crime.
He noted that initiation of criminal prosecution has serious consequences. It relates to the life and liberty of a citizen and carries with it grave consequences.
"Viewed in that light it is obvious that the exercise of power by the Magistrate must be preceded by due application of mind and circumspection....
"However, in the facts of the present case this Court finds that the assumption of jurisdiction and issuance of process failed to adhere to the principles laid down in the judgements aforementioned.