3 March 2021 7:58 AM GMT
"It is not seditious to have views different from the Govt," observed the Supreme Court on Wednesday while dismissing a PIL seeking action against former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah, for his comments on abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution. The plea filed by Rajat Sharma and Dr. Neh Srivastava alleged that Abdullah made a live statement that for...
"It is not seditious to have views different from the Govt," observed the Supreme Court on Wednesday while dismissing a PIL seeking action against former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah, for his comments on abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution.
The plea filed by Rajat Sharma and Dr. Neh Srivastava alleged that Abdullah made a live statement that for restoring Article 370, he would take help from China. They further alleged that the former CM is trying to "hand over" Kashmir to China and thus, he should be prosecuted for Sedition under Section 124A of IPC.
A Bench comprising of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta dismissed the case after the Petitioners failed to substantiate the above allegations. The Bench also imposed a fine of Rs. 50,000/-on the Petitioners for making such claims.
"The expression of a view which is a dissent from a decision taken by the Central Government itself cannot be said to be seditious. There is nothing in the statement which we find so offensive as to give a cause of action for a Court to initiate proceedings. Not only that, the petitioners have nothing to do with the subject matter and this is clearly a case of publicity interest litigation for the petitioners only to get their names in press. We must discourage such endeavours".
The petitioners had submitted,
"Mr Farooq Abdullah has committed offence punishable under section 124-A of Indian Penal Code. As he has made the live statement that for restoring Article 370 he would take help of China which clearly amount to seditious act and therefore he is liable to be punished under section 124-A of the India Penal Code."
The Petitioners alleged that since Abdullah is trying to hand over Kashmir to China & Pakistan, his membership from the Parliament should be terminated and he should be sent to jail.
The Petitioners also relied on a statement made by BJP Spokesperson Sambit Patra (that people in Jammu and Kashmir do not feel that they are Indians) to claim that Abdullah is misleading the people of Jammu and Kashmir to join China for restoration of Article 370 of the Constitution.
The plea stated,
"Mr. Farooq Abdullah is a National seditious and is propagating Anti National thoughts in the mind of innocent people of the Jammu & Kashmir and therefore any person making Anti-National statements should not continue as the Member of the Parliament and he deserves to be removed from the membership of the Parliament."
On 5 August 2019, the Government of India revoked the special status, or limited autonomy, granted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir. At the time, Abdullah (and many J&K leaders) were placed under preventive detention/ house arrest as per the J&K Public Safety Act for three months on September 15, 2019. On December 13, the detention order was further extended by three months. It was finally on March 13, 2020, that his detention order was revoked.
Meanwhile, a batch of PILs were filed before the Supreme Court, challenging the Govt.'s decision to abrogate Article 370 and divide the erstwhile State of J&K into two UTs. The PILs, primarily questioning the validity of a Presidential Order that was issued to abrogate Article 370, are pending before the Supreme Court.
CASE: Rajat Sharma vs. Union of India [WP (c) 80/2021]CORAM: Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant GuptaCITATION: LL 2021 SC 129
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