Himanshu Shukla, Student (IP University, Delhi)
The high court today granted Bali to a farm leader, Dalbir Singh who had been arrested for sedition and among other charges, in May over alleged objectionable speeches (during a protest) against Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar.
The petitioner had been arrested under two FIRs
I. Sections 124A (sedition) and 153A (promoting enmity) of the Indian penal code and,
II. Sections 294 504 (intentional insult), 506 (criminal intimidation), and 500 (defamation) of the Indian penal code.
The court said the nature of contents of the speeches would be the subject matter of trial on whether it was a lawful protest against the policies and dealing of the government or it had a distinct goal and intention.
“…..the investigation in both the cases is complete. The conclusion of the trial is maybe going to require time, it would not be appropriate to deny the petitioner of his liberty. The petitioner is granted bail, subject to furnishing surety bail bonds of Rupees 2 lakh each in both the FIRs.”
While granting him bail, the Bench of Justice Avneesh Jhingan observed that freedom of speech and fundamental right builds a foundation for a powerful democracy.
“….Suffice to say that freedom of speech is a fundamental right and makes a foundation for a powerful democracy. At this stage must hasten to feature that embargo to freedom of speech is prescribed in Article 19 of the Constitution of India itself.” stated the order
It was alleged that the petitioner had given speeches, which could have resulted in the caste-based division. Also, it would be a threat to the peace and harmony of society. Whereas, the petitioner alleged that he was simply exercising his fundamental right to protest and the Petitioner also had a right to criticize the functioning of the State. The counsels for the petitioner had submitted that it is a case of false implication.