Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani

The Editor of a news portal, Dhaval Patel was recently arrested on charges of sedition after an article written earlier in May suggested that the BJP may remove Chief Minister Vijay Rupani from office. The reason being, that the party was not happy with the CM's handling of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the state.

The article by Face of Nation had suggested that Rupani could be replaced by Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya. Reportedly, Patel's story had even claimed that Mandaviya has been called by the BJP high-command to discuss the same. He however denies the rumours.

The journalist had been detailed by the Gujarat Police on May 11.

Reports suggest that Patel has since been refused access to his lawyer. Advocate Anank Yagnik, according to Twitter user Kunal Majumder who is part of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), has been denied access to his client.

Reportedly, Patel had also been detained for 72 hours by the police before being presented before the judge -- something that goes against the law.

Earlier, the Editor's Guild too had condemned Patel's arrest.

"The Editors Guild of India notes with concern a growing pattern of misuse of criminal laws to intimidate journalists in different parts of the country," the organisation wrote.

Speaking of Patel, the Guild said that charging Patel with sedition under the IPC and with spreading false panic under the Disaster Management Act was "a misuse of special laws, besides sedition and IPC".

The Editor's Guild also spoke about another recent incident, where the Delhi police had displayed "egregious and high-handed action". This pertained to Mahender Singh Manral, a Special Correspondent with The Indian Express. The police had sent a notice to the journalist who had reported that police investigations had suggested the "possibility of the audio clip of Tablighi Jamaat leader, Maulana Saad, being doctored".

"While Manral wasn't charged under any law, he was threatened that failure to join the probe could result in legal action under Section 174 of the IPC with punishment of a prison term and fine. This appears to be a little more than a fishing expedition to try and extract the journalist's source and, thus, warn other reporters," the Guild opined.

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