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Crossed Line Of Free Speech But Prima Facie Sedition Not Made Out: Special Court On MP Navneet Rana & MLA Ravi Rana Bail

Sharmeen Hakim
6 May 2022 6:45 AM GMT
MP Navneet Rana and MLA Ravi Rana Claim Benefit of SC Order on Sedition, Oppose Police’s Plea For Issuance of NBW
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While observing that independent MP Navneet Rana and MLA Ravi Rana had crossed that line of freedom and speech in their interviews to the media in the Hanuman Chalisa row, their acts were prima facie not seditious, the Special Court had said in their bail order.

On Wednesday, the special court granted the duo conditional bail in the sedition FIR over forcibly wanting to chant the hanuman chalisa outside the personal residence of Uddhav Thackarey, Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

"Undoubtedly, the applicants have crossed the lines of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the Constitution of India. However, mere expression of derogatory or objectionable words, may not be a sufficient ground for invoking the provisions contained in section 124A of IPC," Special Judge RS Rokade said in the detailed order copy.

The judge was of the view that statements made by the Ranas against the chief minister of Maharashtra were "extremely objectionable." However, Section 124A of the IPC would apply, only when the written and spoken words have the tendency or intention of creating disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence.

"Therefore, though the statements and acts of applicants are blameworthy, the same cannot be stretched too far to bring within the ambit of section 124A of IPC."

The bench recorded Rana's lawyer's contention that they that had dropped their plan to recite Hanuman Chalisa, before registration of crime. "It may be noted that neither the applicants called anyone to bear arms nor any violence was incited in general as a result of the speech delivered by the applicants."

The court also noted that on the very first day of their arrest on April 23, the duo was remanded to judicial custody. Since then their further custody was not sought.

On April 23, the Khar police booked the Ranas under IPC Sections 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race etc), and 124A (sedition), besides provisions of the Bombay Police Act.

Opposing the bail duo's bail application the Mumbai Police claimed that their intention behind wanting to chant the Hanuman Chalisa was for collapse of law and order in the state to the extent that a recommendation for dissolving the Maha Vikas Agadhi Government in Maharashtra can be made.

The defence was led by Senior Advocate Aabad Ponda along with Advocate Rizwan Merchant.

ON SEDITION

The court observed that sedition would be applicable when the accused attempts to bring hatred or excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India.

"Comments, however strongly worded, expressing disapprobation of actions of the Government, without exciting those feelings which generate the inclination to cause public disorder by acts of violence, would not be penal."

"A citizen has a right to say or write whatever he likes about the Government, or its measures, by way of criticism or comments, so long as he does not incite people to violence against the Government established by law or with the intention of creating public disorder."

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