Delhi court questions police understanding of sedition act, as latter charges 2 over critical Facebook post
Dharmender Rana questioned the Delhi police’s use of sedition charges under Section 124 A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), levied on two for putting up a Facebook post. While approving bail to two accused, Devilal Burdak and Swaroop Ram, the Delhi court judge said that the use of the sedition act was a “seriously debatable issue” in the given case. He added that the authorities cannot use the aforementioned law to “quieten the disquiet under the pretense of muzzling miscreants”.
ASJ Rana in his ruling, said that the sedition law was a ‘powerful tool in the hands of the state to maintain peace and order in the society’ and should not be misused. The judge’s order read, “Evidently, law proscribes any act which has a tendency to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence. In the absence of any exhortation, call, incitement or instigation to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence or any allusion or oblique remark or even any hint towards this objective, attributable to the applicant accused, I suspect that Section 124 A IPC (sedition) can be validly invoked against the applicant.”
He added, “In my considered opinion, on a plain reading of the tagline attributed to the applicant/accused, invocation of Section 124 A IPC is a seriously debatable issue.”
Police took Burdak in custody for posting a fake video on his Facebook page with the tagline – “There is a rebellion in Delhi Police and around 200 police officials have given mass resignation.” But the forwarded video talked showed another incident where some Home Guard personnel in khaki were protesting in Jharkhand.
The second accused, Ram, was held for a similar case as he shared a separate video with a similar tagline. However, the video posted by Ram was about a senior Delhi Police officer briefing the police force positioned at the farmers’ protest site on how to tackle the situation properly.
Burdak’s lawyer, Surendra Chaudhary, defended him by stating that “material alleged against the accused is innocuous in nature and it is in fact an expression of emotions uttered in disagreement with government policies. It is further submitted that no offence of sedition or forgery is made out in the instant case”.
After reviewing the entire situation, the judge said, “I have personally seen the video in the courtroom wherein evidently a senior police officer of Delhi Police is raising slogans, in a very agitated tone, and a group of Delhi Police personnel is seen standing beside him. 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.”
While concluding his judgement, Rana told police, “I fail to understand as to how come the offense of forgery is attracted in the instant case unless there is some false document…the prosecution has failed to point out any representation or endeavor on the part of the applicant/accused to cast an impression that the Facebook Page was made, executed or created under the authority of some other person with whose authority it was not made or executed”.