The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday quashed a sedition case filed in 2020 against the management of Shaheen School in Bidar city for staging a play critical of the Citizenship Amendment Act, Live Law reported.
A teacher and a student’s mother were arrested after the police alleged the play was seditious and inflammatory. They said that students of Classes 4, 5 and 6 had insulted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Several social media users had alleged that the play had a dialogue about beating the prime minister with a slipper – even as news reports had debunked the claim. The play was intended to raise awareness about the concerns of Muslims about the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The law grants citizenship to persecuted minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, provided they have resided in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014, but explicitly excludes Muslims.
The Bidar Police drew flak for filing the sedition case on the basis of a complaint of an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad member. The outfit is the students’ wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The police were also criticised for questioning young students, including a nine-year-old. The students had also been summoned to the police station.
In August 2021, the Karnataka High Court had observed that the interrogation was a “serious violation” of child rights and provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act.
The High Court took up the matter after a petition was filed contending that the police violated the law by questioning the students in the absence of their teachers or parents. The petitioners – a lawyer and a human rights group – had said that questioning in a hostile environment had impacted the children’s mental well being.
After the intervention from the courts, the two arrested persons got bail and the police personnel who had interrogated the children faced disciplinary action.
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