The Editors Guild of India on Friday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to quash a first information report with sedition and other charges against journalist Vinod Dua for criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his administration.
“The apex court not just quashed the criminal complaint against Dua, but has also underlined the importance of protecting journalists from sedition cases,” the journalists’ body said. It said that sedition laws have a chilling effect on free media and democracy.
The Editors Guild, however, added that there was need for further intervention from Supreme Court to deal with the way the sedition charges are implemented by law enforcement agencies. It also demanded that the sedition law should be repealed, suggesting it had “no space in any modern liberal democracy”.
In June last year, Bharatiya Janata Party leader in Himachal Pradesh Ajay Shyam had filed a complaint against Dua, accusing him of spreading rumours and misinformation about the communal violence in Delhi in February 2020 through his YouTube show. Dua had approached the Supreme Court after the Himachal Pradesh Police went to his residence on June 12 last year and ordered him to be present at the remote Kumarsain Police Station – at least a 20-hour drive from Delhi – the very next day at 10 am.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court quashed the First Information Report filed against Dua, holding that every journalist will be entitled to the protection under the landmark Kedar Nath Singh judgement. In its verdict in the 1962 case, the court had held that criticism of the government cannot be labelled sedition unless accompanied by an incitement or call for violence.
Meanwhile, the International Press Institute on Friday demanded that all pending sedition charges against journalists be dropped in view of the Supreme Court judgement.
“India’s sedition law has been increasingly employed as a tool to retaliate against critical journalists,” the Austria-based journalists’ body said in its statement. “We call for all pending sedition charges against journalists to be dropped and for the Indian government to bring its laws in line with international standards.”