A plea seeking quashing of FIR against the management of Shaheen School & parents of students for organizing a play against CAA-NRC-NPR has been filed in the Supreme Court.
The Petition has been filed by Activist Yogita Bhayana and contends that the Constitution of India guarantees freedom of speech and expression, which includes the right to express oneself through one's own convictions. It has been averred that this includes freedom of expression in the form of conducting a play.
It is averred that Article 19 is not an arbitrary and its restrictions or limitations must comply with reasonable restrictions as envisaged in the Constitution.
The Petition further contends that the direct corollary of imposing sedition charges for organizing a play, (which criticizes a law) shall be antithetical to Article 21 of the Constitution.
Reiterating several judgments, the petition states that orchestrating a play, which is critical of the CAA-NPR-NRC, cannot in anyway lead to incitement of violence.
Inter alia, the Petitioner in her averments, has relied on Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras, Sakal Papers v. Union of India, Bennett Coleman & Co. vs. Union of India to establish that freedom of speech rests at the ark of the Covenant of Democracy and free flow of opinions are essential to sustain the collective life of the citizenry.
It has been contended that the Supreme Court has established vide Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar that,
"a citizen has a right to say whatever he likes about the Govt. or its policies but shouldn't incite violence"
Furthermore, it is contended that the Supreme Court must issue directions to the Karnataka Police to quash the FIR filed against management of Shaheen School and parents of the students.
It specifically avers as one of its grounds that,
"despite well settled principle of law and the judgments of this Hon'ble Court, the Karnataka Police failed to distinguish between an academic discourse/ artistic endeavor and the serious criminal act of sedition registered a seidition case against a school for a play criticizing the CAA-NRC-NPR and arrested school teachers and a widowed mother of a student"
In light of the above, it has also been prayed that the Apex Court must issue directions to the state constitute a committee to scrutinize complaints under 124A (Sedition) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) before registration of an FIR.
The widowed mother and school Headmistress were granted bail by the Sessions Court in Bidar on 14th February 2020.
Despite videos and photos of interrogation surfacing across social media, Bidar police publicly let out a statement saying that the Children in the school were only "counseled" and there was no undue pressure or stress involved.
Several similar petitions are currently pending before the Karnataka High Court as well.