The petitioner relying on multiple SC judgments argued that police failed to distinguish between academic discourse/artistic endeavour and sedition, in a free country.

SC to hear plea seeking quashing of FIR in Bidar sedition case
news Law Friday, February 21, 2020 - 18:19

A petition to quash the FIR (first information report) in the Bidar sedition case in which two women were in jail for two weeks, has been filed in the Supreme Court. The women – – the mother and a teacher of an 11-year-old – were arrested after the child participated in a school play in which she delivered a dialogue that was allegedly insulting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The case is currently being heard at the trial court after the two were granted bail by the sessions court.

Incidentally, a plea demanding the same was being heard by a single-judge bench of the Karnataka High Court. While the case in the HC was filed by a Karnataka-based activist, the case in the apex court has been filed by a Delhi-based social activist, Yogita Bhayana.

The Bidar police on January 26 had registered an FIR under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 505(2) (Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes), 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting, attempting to promote disharmony) and 34 (common intent), against the unnamed President or Head of Shaheen School, and Management persons of Shaheen School and journalist Mohamed Yusuf.

This was related to an anti-NRC (National Registry of Citizens) play performed by the students on January 21 in the Shaheen Education Institute. The FIR was based on a complaint by an ABVP worker Neelesh. In the FIR, police had said that the school made minors use foul language against the Prime Minister and spread misinformation with regards to NRC.

In her petition, Yogita has contended that the registration of the FIR has violated the fundamental rights of the citizens. 

She said, “Despite the well-settled principle of law laid down by this Apex Court in a plethora of judgments, the Karnataka Police failed to distinguish between the academic discourse/artistic endeavour and sedition in a free country and registered a sedition case against the minor school-going children and their parents,” citing multiple Supreme Court judgements.

She added, “... in light of the above facts, the petitioner most respectfully submits that ‘freedom of expression’ is supreme and prerequisite in a deliberative democracy which has been clearly violated by the state police authorities by lodging the FIR against school management and a widowed parent of a student who participated in a play ‘criticizing Citizenship Amendment Act, National Citizenship Register and National Population Register’.”