Court closes sedition case against Amnesty India

Organisation says ‘end to a disgraceful attempt to stifle freedom of expression’

January 11, 2019 10:20 pm | Updated 10:20 pm IST

A city court recently directed closing of the sedition case filed against Amnesty India after a group of students allegedly shouted ‘anti-India’ slogans at an event organised by them in August 2016. The court had accepted the closure ‘B’ report filed by the police.

“This brings an end to a disgraceful attempt to stifle freedom of expression,” said Amnesty India in a statement on Friday.

The police had filed a sedition case against the international human rights organisation based on a complaint by representatives of Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishath (ABVP). Amnesty had organised a programme, ‘Broken Families’, where Kashmiri families were to narrate their stories of strife in the valley.

When the scheduled time for the programme had ended, the police and organisers switched off the microphones just as a popular Kashmiri rapper was taking the stage. Some students erupted in anger, and ABVP alleged that ‘Azadi’ slogans were raised. This, said the complainant, amounted to sedition.

Following criticism over registering a sedition case, the police commissioner formed a special probe team led by an assistant commissioner of police. In July 2017, the police filed a ‘B’ report, as they found no evidence to make the charge of sedition against representatives of the organisation. A forensic examination of the video recording of the event also did not point to any seditious slogans being raised at the event.

“This was a case that should never have been registered, given previous Supreme Court rulings on what constitutes sedition. It has been a waste of public money and resources, and a distraction from real issues. The ruling vindicates everything that Amnesty India has said from the time this politically motivated complaint was filed,” said Aakar Patel of Amnesty India. “We were branded anti-national and criminalised simply for seeking justice for human rights violations. We will continue to seek the repeal of India’s archaic sedition law, which is still used to harass and persecute human rights defenders,” he added.

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