Should a person be jailed if he shouts murdabad (death to) slogans, asked senior advocate Mihir Desai during an event organised by People’s Union for Civil Liberties on Tuesday, reported Live Law.

He made the statement during a discussion on three judgements that denied bail to activists Jyoti Jagtap and Umar Khalid and stay on the acquittal of former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba.

On Tuesday, Desai was arguing that sometimes judges do not get the context of the statements made by the accused persons.

“Murdabad means ‘death to’,” Desai said. “So any person saying Murdabad should be behind bars? Sometimes it’s like hitting your head against the wall.”

To support his argument, he cited the example of Jagtap’s case in which the prosecution had repeatedly contended that the accused persons “call each other comrades so they must be a part of a party”.

He added, “There are parties which have Communist in their names. Some judges don’t even understand. Twenty years back at least judges were aware of this.”

Further referring to the case against Jagtap, Desai said that the first information report against her was just filed because she shouted some slogans at the Elgar Parishad – which took place in Pune in December 2017 – and was part of a play that dealt with matters such as demonetisation and Dalit rights.

The senior advocate said that the most important aspect of the case was the use of “frontal organisations” by the prosecution in the hearings.

Noting that Jagtap was a part of the Kabir Kala Manch cultural group, he said that the prosecution cannot call the body a frontal organisation till there is government notification on it.

“What is the basis of holding Kabir Kala Manch as a frontal organisation? Nothing,” he said. “Just the other day the Prime Minister called ‘Narmada Bachao Andolan’ as an urban naxal movement. Anything can be called this, which is okay for politicians but for courts to hold such organisations as frontal organisation is wrong.”

Jagtap has been in prison since September 2020 in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. The Bombay High Court had denied her bail on October 17, observing that the case filed against her by the National Investigation Agency was prima facie true.