Mere Criticism is not Seditious


Bombay High Court: In a major relief to cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, a bench comprising of Mohit Shah, CJ and N.M. Jamdar, J has held that citizens have the right to say or write anything criticizing the government and its measures as far as it does not incite violence or create problems in law and order. The Court observed that after having seen the seven cartoons drawn by the cartoonist, they didn’t find any  element of wit or humour or sarcasm in them. It only displayed anger and disgust. But that does not mean that it attracted sedition charges,

The Court stated that it is clear that the provisions of Section 124A of IPC cannot be invoked to penalize criticism of the persons engaged in carrying on administration or strong words used to express disapprobation of the measures of Government with a view to their improvement or alteration by lawful means. Every citizen has a right to say or write whatever he likes about the Government, or its measures, by way of criticism or comments, so long as he does not incite people to violence against the Government established by law or with the intention of creating public disorder. The section aims at rendering penal only such activities as would be intended, or have a tendency, to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence.

The Court also accepted a set of guidelines, as pre-conditions to police for invoking sedition charges only if an act was an incitement to violence or disturbed pubic order. A legal opinion in writing, along with reasons, must also  be submitted before any charge of sedition was to be applied in any case. Sanskar Marathe vs. State of Maharashtra, 2015 SCC OnLine Bom 587, decided on March 17, 2015

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