The Bombay High Court on Friday came down heavily on the Mumbai police for booking cartoonist Aseem Trivedi for sedition.
“Why didn’t you apply your mind before charging him with sedition and arresting him? Today you arrested a cartoonist. Tomorrow it will be a filmmaker or a screenplay writer. We live in a free society and enjoy freedom of speech and expression. Sedition is a pre-independence [law],” a Division Bench of Justices D. Y. Chandrachud and Amjad Sayyed said, during the hearing of a public interest litigation petition filed by lawyer Sanskar Marathe.
Hailing Mr. Trivedi, who was recently released on bail following the court’s orders, for his “courageous” stand, the Bench criticised the police action as frivolous and arbitrary.
“You cannot arrest anyone on frivolous grounds. You arrest a cartoonist under sedition and detain and breach his liberty. Have you read 124A [of the IPC]?”
The court asked the government to clarify whether it intended dropping the sedition charge.
“Someone has to take political responsibility.”
The petition sought unconditional release of the Kanpur-based cartoonist and the quashing of the sedition charge.
The court posted the matter to October 12. It underlined the need for laying down parameters for invoking Section 124.