HC slams Mumbai Police for arresting cartoonist



Mumbai: Dubbing the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on the charge of sedition as "arbitrary" and on "frivolous" grounds, the Bombay High Court on Friday said it breached his freedom of speech and expression.

The court also said it intended to lay down guidelines for application of the pre-Independence law to ensure that liberties guaranteed to citizens in a civil society are not encroached.

"How can you (police) arrest people on frivolous grounds? You arrest a cartoonist and breach his liberty of freedom of speech and expression," a division bench of justices DY Chandrachud and Amjad Sayyed said, voicing strong displeasure over the arrest of Kanpur-based cartoonist whom it had granted bail two days back.

The Kanpur-based cartoonist, arrested last Saturday, was released on Monday after the high court granted him bail amid mounting public outcry.

Observing that Trivedi's arrest was prima facie "arbitrary", the court said, "We have one Aseem Trivedi who was courageous enough to raise his voice and stand against this, but what about several others whose voices are shut by police."

The court was hearing a PIL filed by a lawyer Sanskar Marathe against Trivedi's arrest, which he described as "illegal, bad in law, and unjustified".

Noting that the law governing sedition was a pre- Independence provision in the statute book when government wanted protection from citizens, the bench said it intended to lay "parameters" for its application to check misuse.

"If there are no parameters there will be serious encroachment of a person's liberties guaranteed to him in a civil society," the bench said.

PTI