The right to air an opinion, to dissent, intellectual discourse are the heart and soul of the freedom of speech and expression which stands conferred upon all citizens by our Constitution, the High Court said while quashing the sedition case against Finance Minister.
Allahabad High court has quashed sedition case against Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Summons issued by Judicial Magistrate taking suo moto cognizance of alleged offences on the basis of an article written by the applicant and posted on his Facebook page was quashed by Justice Yashwant Varma yesterday.
The Magistrate, who issued summons to Arun Jaitley for expressing his views on NJAC Judgment through an Article titled ‘NJAC Judgement-An Alternative View’ had said that that no citizen has a right to disrespect the three pillars of our democracy namely, the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary. He then proceeds to record that an order of a Court can be questioned only by following a procedure prescribed by law. The order then states that no person is entitled to create or generate hatred or contempt against an elected Government established by law. Arun Jaitley then approached the High Court seeking quashing of summons issued to him.
The court observed that the article written by the Arun Jaitley cannot be said to be intended to create public disorder or be designed or aimed at exciting the public against a Government established by law or an organ of the State, rather it merely seeks to voice the opinion and the view of the author of the need to strike a balance between the functioning of two important pillars of the country
Coming down heavily on the Magistrate who issued summons to Finance minister, the Court said that the magistrate appears to have “closed his eyes to the well-settled view that healthy criticism or even intellectual disagreement with a particular view of a judge contained in a judgment of the court is not a crime”. The view expressed may be unacceptable or even unpalatable to some, but the same does not render it liable to prosecution under the Penal Code, the court added.
The court further said that initiation of criminal prosecution has serious consequences as it relates to the life and liberty of a citizen and carries with it grave consequences and it is obvious that the exercise of power by the Magistrate must be preceded by due application of mind and circumspection. The court remarked “Was the article a call to arms, rebellion, and insurrection? The answer must obviously be in the negative. The Magistrate has clearly failed to apply judicial mind, acted irresponsibly and failed to bear in mind the caution and circumspection which should have preceded his assuming jurisdiction and issuing summons.”
Read the Judgment here.