Observing this “Citizens are the guardians of the conscience of government in any democratic nation” and “cannot be put behind bars just because they choose not to agree with the policy of the state”, and that “The offense of sedition cannot be invoked to serve the wounded vanity of governments,” A Delhi court on Tuesday granted bail to Bengaluru activist Disha Ravi.
Arrested on February 13 by Delhi police connection with a toolbox on the farmer protests which were tweeted by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, Ravi was released on Tuesday evening.
Further Sessions, Judge Dharmender Rana, noting that Delhi Police “the resistance to the bail application appears to be more ornamental in nature,” said: “In view of the scarce and fragmentary evidence available on the record, I finds no palpable reason to violate the general rule of “bail” against a 22-year-old young woman, with absolutely flawless criminal history and strong roots in society, and send her to jail.
He ordered that Ravi be released on bail after posting a personal bond / bond of Rs 1 lakh with two bonds each. He was told to continue to cooperate with the investigation, to join the investigation as it is summoned by the investigator; not to leave the country without the authorization of the court; and “appear scrupulously at each stage of the proceedings” before the court concerned “so as not to hinder or delay its progress”.
Regarding the police charge against Ravi for using the toolkit, ASJ Rana said, “Reading said ‘toolkit’ reveals that any call for any kind of violence is clearly absent.”
Stating that “the crux of the matter is whether the plaintiff / accused Disha was simply involved in a peaceful demonstration and dissent against the acts of the farm or whether she was actually involved in seditious activities under the guise of protesting against said legislation ”, He referred to the interpretation of the word“ sedition ”, as prescribed in Article 124A of the IPC, and the decisions of the Supreme Court in this regard.
“Obviously, the law only prohibits activities which have the aim or tend to create disturbances or disturb the public peace by resorting to violence. “Violence” appears to be the motive for the charge, “he said.
He said the additional solicitor general, who appeared for the Delhi police, “during the proceedings, correctly admitted that there was no direct evidence linking the applicant / accused to the violence. which took place on 01.26.2021 in Delhi. However, he argued that the behavior of the applicant / accused compared to the concomitant circumstances would unambiguously establish that there was a “ broader conspiracy ” to perpetuate violence by secessionist forces and that the protest against the laws agriculture was only a facade to cover up the real disaster. drawings. “
Citing the Bombay High Court ruling in Arun G Gowli v Maharashtra State, ASJ Rana said that it was “observed that the plot cannot be proven simply on the basis of inference” and must be supported by evidence.
He categorized the material collected against Ravi under different subtitles. Regarding “ engagement with secessionist forces, ” he said the ASG had pointed out that a pro-Khalistani secessionist group, the Poetic Justice Foundation, and those associated with it were directly linked to the creation of the Toolkit document, which Mo Dhaliwal and Anita Lal, known pro-Khalistan activists, were the people behind PJF.
The court was also informed that Ravi’s associates Nikita and Shantanu attended a Zoom meeting in which 60 to 70 people, including Dhaliwal and Lal, participated.
The ASG, noted the judge, “rightly admitted that the PJF is not a banned organization and that no criminal action is pending against … Mo Dhaliwal and Anita Lal”.
“There is nothing in the file that establishes a direct link between the applicant / accused and Mo Dhaliwal and Anita Lal … nothing in the file suggests that there was an appeal, incitement, instigation or an exhortation on the part of the applicant / accused and the aforementioned organizations and his associates instigated violence on 01.26.2021 ”, he said.
“In my opinion, it is not a simple engagement with people of dubious titles that is liable to prosecution, but it is the purpose of the engagement that is relevant in determining guilt. Anyone with questionable credentials can interact with a number of people in the course of their social relationships. As long as the engagement / interaction stays within the four corners of the law, people who interact with these people, ignorantly, innocently or even fully aware of their questionable credentials, cannot be painted the same shade ”, did he declare.
“In the absence of any evidence indicating that the applicant / accused accepted or shared a common goal of provoking violence on 01/26/2021 with the founders of PJF, it cannot be assumed by resort to guesswork or conjecture that she also supported secessionist tendencies or the violence provoked on 01.26.2021, simply because she shared a platform with people, who came together to oppose the legislation. There is not even an iota of evidence brought to my knowledge linking the perpetrators of the violence of 01/26/2021 to the said PJF or to the applicant / accused, ”he said.
Regarding the use of the toolbox, the judge said: “Reading the said ‘toolbox’ reveals that any call for any kind of violence is clearly absent. In my opinion, the citizens are the guardians of the conscience of the government in any democratic nation. They cannot be put behind bars just because they choose to disagree with state policies. The crime of sedition cannot be invoked to serve the wounded vanity of governments. (Niharendu Dutt Mazumdar v. Emperor AIR 1942 FC22). Differences of opinion, disagreements, disagreements, dissent, or for that matter, even disapproval, are recognized legitimate tools for instilling objectivity in state policies. Conscious and assertive citizenship, as opposed to indifferent or docile citizenship, is unquestionably the sign of a healthy and vibrant democracy.
Stating that “our 5000 year old civilization has never been opposed to ideas from various backgrounds,” he quoted a verse from the Rig Veda that “embodies our cultural ethos expressing our respect for dissenting opinions” – it roughly translates by ‘Let noble thoughts come to me from all directions’. “Even our founding fathers gave due respect to the difference of opinion by recognizing freedom of speech and expression as an inviolable fundamental right. The right to dissent is firmly enshrined in Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. In my opinion, freedom of speech and expression includes the right to seek a global audience. There are no geographic barriers to communication. A citizen has the fundamental right to use the best means of communicating and receiving communication, provided this is permitted under the four corners of the law and as such have access to an audience abroad ”, did he declare.
Regarding the police argument that Ravi “gave the seditious elements a worldwide audience by manipulating the support of international youth icon Ms. Greta Thunberg”, ASJ Rana said: “Nothing in the file suggests that the applicant / accused subscribed to a secessionist idea. Further, the prosecution, except to point out that the Applicant / Defendant passed the Toolkit to Ms Greta Thunberg, did not indicate how the Applicant / Defendant gave a global hearing to “secessionist elements”.
He said that “other than a simple assertion, no evidence has been brought to my attention to support the assertion that violence took place in one of the Indian embassies in accordance with the claims. designs of the applicant / accused and her co-conspirators ”.
On the hyperlinks embedded in the toolkit which police say defamed the Indian military by citing the example of material available on genocide.org which speaks of human rights violations in 40 countries, including India , the judge declared that “the charges are considered reprehensible in nature”. But he disagreed that the material was seditious in nature. “Charges may be false, exaggerated, or even with malicious intent, but they cannot be branded as seditious unless they tend to foment violence.”
On police allegations that Ravi created a WhatsApp group, the court said that “it is not an offense to create a WhatsApp group or to be the publisher of a harmless toolkit. “. Additionally, since the link was not found to be objectionable, “simply removing the WhatsApp chat to destroy evidence linking it to the Toolkit and PJF also becomes meaningless. Furthermore, it is rightly pointed out by the Ld Defense Counsel that the protest march was duly authorized by Delhi Police, so there is nothing wrong with Co-Defendant Shantanu arriving in Delhi for to attend the protest march ”.
The judge said Ravi’s attempt to hide his identity “appears to be nothing more than an anxious effort to avoid unnecessary controversy.”
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