Mumbai Local

Bombay High Court granted me bail in 2 days: ‘seditious’ artist

There are strong similarities between the sedition case against JNUSU leader Kanhaiya Kumar and the charges that were brought against him by the Maharashtra government in 2012, says noted cartoonist Aseem Trivedi. In September that year, Trivedi had been charged with ‘sedition’ for his work, which the Congress-NCP government ruling the state had felt ‘could incite violence’.

Granting bail to Trivedi after two days in police custody, a Bombay High Court division bench comprising Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice NM Jamdar had recorded, ‘A citizen has a right to say or write whatever he likes about the Government, or its measures, by way of criticism or comment, so long as he does not incite people to violence against the Government established by law or with the intention of creating public disorder.’

Kanhaiya, however, will already have spent 13 days in judicial and police custody when his case comes up on Monday for hearing in the Delhi High Court before Justice Pratibha Rani. Recounting his fight against ‘intolerance’, Mr Trivedi told The Hindu , “Well, there surely is a similarity between both scenarios and the way in which sedition charges have been brought, but there is a difference in the politics and the political parties involved. These are attempts to curb a voice of dissent, and what better than one at JNU?”

He added, “I was at Arthur Road jail for just two days, while Kanhaiya has been in Tihar jail for 14 days. The Bombay High Court granted me bail after two days in police custody, but Kanhaiya has been in custody for much longer.”

Mr Trivedi said, “Let us assume that the words spoken or written by Kanhaiya Kumar brought or attempted to bring hatred or contempt towards the government. Does this overwrite his fundamental and constitutional right to freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution? It was upheld by the HC in my case. I am really hoping for the same for Kanhaiya.”

Charges questionable: lawyers

The charges against Kanhaiya are questionable, noted senior Bombay HC advocates. Senior counsel Mihir Desai, who represented Mr Trivedi in the HC, said Kanhaiya should not have been charged with sedition, and definitely not be put behind bars. “What are you going to achieve by keeping him behind bars? In both cases, there was no violence. The political atmosphere was different then; Kanhaiya represents an institution, so people are looking for reasons to attack the institution,” Mr Desai added.

Former advocate General Darius Khambata, who appeared for the state in Mr Trivedi’s case, said the state government had dropped sedition charges against Mr Trivedi. “The Supreme Court has made is very clear as to what constitutes sedition. If you choose to ignore it, then anything can be sedition. There should not be much of a debate on charges of sedition, as this is not a case of sedition,” he said.

Supporting bail for Kanhaiya, senior counsel Amit Desai added, “This should be a case for bail. Whether the video is doctored or not is beside the point; what should be considered is whether the element of ‘incitement of violence’ is present.”

These are attempts to curb a voice

of dissent, and what better than one at JNU?

Aseem TrivediCartoonist

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 8:32:07 AM |

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