The Offence of Sedition Cannot Be Invoked To Quieten the Disquiet Under the Pretense of Muzzling Miscreants: Delhi High Court 

State vs. Swaroop Ram

Brief facts of the case

This was a bail application filed by a 21-year-old labourer, who was accused of commission of offences under Section 124A/505/468/471 of Indian Penal Code. he was in judicial custody since 5 February 2021.

 It was claimed that the accused (Swaroop Ram) posted a fake video on Facebook with the tagline, ” Delhi Police mae bagawat 200 police karmiyon ne diya samuhik istifa. Jai Jawaan Jai Kisan# I_Support_Rakesh_Tikait_Challenge” ( There was an uprising in Delhi Police and approximately 200 police officials gave resignation. Hail the soldier. Hail the Farmer). 

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The Police claimed that the video was related to an incident where a senior officer of Delhi Police was briefing police personnel at the protest site to handle the situation properly. 

Appellant’s argument

It was submitted that very serious allegations have been levelled against the accused and he had only made a sensational Facebook post to spread disaffection against the State but has also committed forgery. 

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It was, further, argued that the accused committed the offences punishable under Section 124A/505/468/471 IPC. Considering the seriousness of the allegations, the Accused did not deserve the indulgence of the Court. 

Respondent’s argument

It was submitted that the accused/applicant has been falsely projected in the given case. the material alleged against the accused was innocuous and just an expression of disagreement with the government policies. No offence of sedition or forgery was made out, however, just a case under Section 505 IPC was made out against the accused, which is bailable. 

The investigation with the accused also seemed to be completed in the sense that the police are no longer seeking custodial interrogation of the accused. The accused was ready to cooperate with the on-going investigations and will comply with all the directions by this Court if granted bail. 

The Co-accused Om Prakash had also been granted bail by this Court. 

 

Observation by the Court

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The accused cannot be booked for forgery as the prosecution failed to point to any representation or endeavour on the part of the accused to cast an impression that the Facebook Page was made, executed, or created under the authority of some other person with whose authority it was not made or executed. The making of the false document is the sin qua non for the offence of forgery. But the prosecution could not point out the creation of the false document, so how can section 468/471 IPC can be invoked in the given case. For this Devendra vs. State (2009) was referred. 

The allegation against the accused of commission of the offence punishable under Section 505 IPC seems to bear force but is a bailable offence. 

It was observed that the interpretation of the word ‘sedition’ as mentioned under Section 124A of IPC, the Hon’ble Apex Court has dealt with acts that are prohibited and have a tendency to cause ‘disaffection against India’ as observed in the case of Kedar Nath Vs. State of Bihar (1962).

The law of sedition is a powerful tool in the hands of the state to maintain peace and order in society. But it cannot be invoked to quieten the disquiet under the pretence of muzzling miscreants. The law prohibits any act which tends to cause disorder or disturbance of public tranquillity by resort to violence. 

In the absence of any exhortation, call, incitement or instigation to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence or any allusion or oblique remark or even any hint towards this objective, attributable to the applicant accused, the Court suspected that Section 124 A IPC can be validly invoked against the accused. In my considered opinion, on a bare reading of the tagline attributed to the accused, the invocation of Section 124A IPC is a seriously debatable issue.

The custodial interrogation was no longer sought by the police. Taking into account the nature of allegations against the accused, grounds of parity, and period of incarceration, the accused was admitted to bail. 

The decision of the Court

For the aforesaid mentioned reasons, the accused was admitted to bail on his furnishing bail bond in the sum of ₹ 50,000 with one surety in the like amount and subject to the condition that he shall join the investigation as and when called upon by IO. 

Click here to read State vs. Swaroop Ram.


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