Journalists cannot be arrested just for criticizing the government: Supreme Court | India News
Nulling an FIR sedition registered by Himachal police against journalist Vinod Dua for his video on social media criticizing the government and attacking Prime Minister Modi for the miseries of migrant workers in the wake of last year’s shutdown, judges said UU Lalit and Vineet Saran. Based on the complaints in the FIR and after examining the content of Dua’s video, the ingredients of the crimes of sedition or defamation were not identified. The CS also avoided the threat of invoking the Disaster Management Law against Dua.
SC: Dua’s opinions do not constitute an offense
The SC said that the views expressed by Vinod Dua did not constitute an offense under the Disaster Management Act or any provision of the IPC. But the court refused to equate the journalists with the doctors in whose favor the supreme court had ruled that a doctor facing negligence charges should not be arrested without a preliminary investigation.
The court rejected Dua’s request, made by lead attorney Vikas Singh, that instructions be given to the Center and declares that a committee be established to examine charges brought in an FIR against any journalist with 10 years of experience. Dua had asked that a journalist be detained only when the committee was satisfied that the charges required arrest.
In recent years, journalists have often been attacked in different parts of the country. In many cases, false charges have been imposed. Given this backdrop, the Supreme Court ruling is very welcome. It is noteworthy that the supreme court did not establish new rules. Rather, it reminded police of a landmark case that occurred 60 years ago. The sad truth is that these days you have to repeatedly inform the authorities about well-established democratic norms.
In drafting the 117-page ruling, Judge Lalit referred extensively to the constitutional ruling of five 60-year-old judges in the Kedar Nath Singh case, in which the higher court had established the definition of what constituted the crime of sedition and had ruled that a citizen’s right to criticism, no matter how harsh, could never be a motive to incite the police to file an FIR under Section 124A of the IPC (sedition).
“The principles drawn from the decision in Kedar Nath Singh show that a citizen has the right to criticize or comment on the measures taken by the government and its officials, as long as it does not incite people to violence against the government established by law or with the intention to create public disorder; and that it is only when the words or expressions have a pernicious tendency or intention to create public disorder or disturbance of public order that articles 124A and 505 of the IPC should intervene ”, said the court.
“Every journalist will have the right to protection in terms of Kedar Nath Singh, since all prosecution under Sections 124A and 505 of the IPC must be in strict accordance with the scope and scope of said sections as explained in, and completely in tune with the law established in Kedar Nath Singh ”, he added.