4 Feb 2023 9:57 AM GMT
Observing that dissent has to be encouraged and not stifled, a Delhi Court has said that dissent has to be given space and a forum because it is “reflective of something which pricks a citizen's conscience.”Additional Sessions Judge Arul Varma of Saket Courts observed that dissent is nothing but an extension of the “invaluable fundamental right to freedom of speech and...
Observing that dissent has to be encouraged and not stifled, a Delhi Court has said that dissent has to be given space and a forum because it is “reflective of something which pricks a citizen's conscience.”
Additional Sessions Judge Arul Varma of Saket Courts observed that dissent is nothing but an extension of the “invaluable fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression” guaranteed under Article 19, subject to the restrictions contained therein.
“It is therefore a right which we are sworn to uphold,” the court said.
The judge further said that as laid P.Vijayan vs State Of Kerala, the court is duty bound to lean towards an interpretation which protects the rights of the accused, given the ubiquitous power disparity between them and the State machinery.
Relying on certain statements of Mahatma Gandhi and CJI DY Chandrachud, the court the dissent has to be encouraged not stifled. However, the judge added, the caveat is that the dissent should be absolutely peaceful, and should not degenerate into violence.
“The desideratum is for the investigative agencies to discern the difference between dissent and insurrection,” the court said adding that the latter has to be quelled indisputably.
“However, the former has to be given space, a forum, for dissent is perhaps reflective of something which pricks a citizen's conscience,” it added.
The court made the observations while discharging Sharjeel Imam, Safoora Zargar, Asif Iqbal Tanha and eight others in 2019 Jamia violence case.
The court observed that the police was unable to apprehend “actual perpetrators” and “surely managed to rope them as scapegoats” in the matter.
It said that prosecution has ex facie been launched in a “perfunctory and cavalier fashion” against the accused persons and that to allow them to undergo the rigmarole of a long drawn trial, does not augur well for the criminal justice system of our country.
“Furthermore, such a police action is detrimental to the liberty of citizens who choose to exercise their fundamental right to peacefully assemble and protest. Liberty of protesting citizens should not have been lightly interfered with,” it said.
Pulling up the prosecution for filing “ill-conceived chargesheets”, the judge said that the police has “arbitrarily chosen” to array some people from the protesting crowd as accused and others as police witnesses.
This “cherry picking” is detrimental to the precept of fairness, the court added.
The case is connected to the incidents of violence at Jamia Milia Islamia University in December, 2019. The FIR alleged offences of rioting and unlawful assembly - sections 143, 147, 148, 149, 186, 353, 332, 333, 308, 427, 435, 323, 341, 120B and 34 of IPC were invoked in the case.
‘Delhi Police Roped Them As Scapegoats, Prosecution Launched In Cavalier Fashion’: Court Discharges Sharjeel Imam, Others In 2019 Jamia Violence Case