Hanuman Chalisa row: 'Ranas crossed lines of freedom of speech, but not sufficient ground to invoke sedition’, says court

The couple was granted relief on Wednesday

Staff ReporterUpdated: Friday, May 06, 2022, 11:31 PM IST
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Hanuman Chalisa row: 'Ranas crossed lines of freedom of speech, but not sufficient ground to invoke sedition’, says court | FPJ

Mumbai: The special court that granted bail to legislator couple MP Navneet Rana and MLA Ravi Rana, arrested in the Hanuman Chalisa row, has said in its detailed order that while the duo undoubtedly crossed the line of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the constitution, mere expression of derogatory or objectionable words might not be sufficient grounds to invoke the charge of sedition. The couple were granted relief on Wednesday.

The court said that prima facie it appeared that they had used certain expressions and sentences against the chief minister, which are extremely objectionable. Special Judge R N Rokade of the court, conducting cases of MPs and MLAs, further stated that it was to be noted that political leaders played an important role in facilitating peace and tranquillity. “Their vitality is appreciated due to the fact that they have followers - people who believe in what they say and act accordingly,” the court said. It added that therefore, politicians and other political figures have a greater responsibility and the impact of a political speech is also greater as they are in a position of authority. It added that though their statements and acts are blameworthy, these could not be stretched too far to bring within the ambit of the provision of sedition under the Indian Penal Code.

Judge Rokade, in his reasoning, said that it was well-settled that the provision could not be invoked to penalize criticism of the persons for the time being engaged in carrying on administration or strong words used to express disapprobation of the measures of the government with a view to their improvement or alteration by lawful means. “Similarly, comments, however strongly worded, expressing disapprobation of actions of the government, without exciting those feelings which generate the inclination to cause public disorder by acts of violence, would not be penal,” the order read.

The order said that a citizen had the right to say or write whatever they liked about the government or its measures, by way of criticism or comments, so long as they did not incite people to violence against the government or with the intention to create public disorder. The court said that on perusal of the FIR, it was not the case of prosecution that the announcement (to recite Hanuman Chalisa) was made with an intention to incite people to create disorder by acts of violence. The announcement did not, in any manner, have the tendency, it said, of subverting the government by violent means.

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