A court in Delhi has said that sedition law cannot be invoked to “quieten the disquiet”, PTI reported on Tuesday. Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana made the observations while giving bail to two men accused of posting fake videos about the Delhi Police in connection with the farmers’ protest against the agricultural laws.
Earlier this month, Devi Lal Burdak and Swaroop Ram were arrested under charges of sedition. The videos posted by both of them had the tagline: “There is a rebellion in Delhi Police and around 200 police officials have given mass resignation.”
They also used hashtags of farmers’ protests to link it with the alleged unrest within the Delhi Police. However, the videos shared by them were from September last year and showed Home Guard personnel protesting in Jharkhand.
During the hearing, Judge Rana said using Section 124 A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code was a “seriously debatable issue” in this case. “The law of sedition is a powerful tool in the hands of the state to maintain peace and order in the society,” he added. “However, it cannot be invoked to quieten the disquiet under the pretence of muzzling the miscreants.”
The judge also said that in the absence of any exhortation, call, incitement or instigation to create disorder, the sedition law cannot be validly invoked against the accused.
“I have personally seen the video in the court room wherein evidently a senior police officer of Delhi Police is raising slogans, in a very agitated tone, and a group of Delhi Police personnel are seen standing beside him,” Rana said. “The background voices also suggest a very charged up atmosphere. It was informed by the investigating officer that the accused were not the author of the said post and they had merely forwarded it.”
The Delhi Police informed the court that the videos were shared on social media at “a strategic time deliberately in an attempt to excite disaffection towards the government”, referring to the violence that broke out during the tractor rally on Republic Day, reported the Hindustan Times.
However, the judge rejected the arguments and granted bail to both the accused. They were asked to join investigation in the case.