P&H HC | Right to Voice Opinion freely and Criticize government’s functioning is every citizen’s right in a democracy: Read Court’s outlook on language to be adopted while criticising

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Sudhir Mittal, J., while addressing a bail matter observed that, while criticising the government in a democracy is a right of the citizen, the same should be done in a decent manner and unparliamentary language should not be adopted.

In the instant matter, bail was sought for the case registered under Sections 115, 124-A, 153-A, 505(2), 295, 188, 269, 270, 271, 506 Penal Code, 1860, Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

SEDITION

Petitioner by going live On Facebook had made statements against the unity and integrity of the Nation. Hence an FIR was registered against him for the offences of sedition, hurting religious sentiments and causing communal disaffection.

Petitioner’s Counsel submitted that on an examination of utterances made by the petitioner it can be seen that the offences of sedition and inciting communal disaffection are not attracted.

Analysis and Decision

Bench on perusal of the transcript of the CD prepared from the live performance of the petitioner noted that the petitioner was unhappy with the lockdown that was imposed due to the pandemic and the way Government of India as well as the Punjab Government was handling the situation.

He definitely used intemperate and abusive language while criticising the Government, but the same does not amount to disaffection towards the Government established by law or to excite hatred against it.

The above also doesn’t amount to inciting religious disaffection or disruption of communal harmony.

In a democracy, every citizen has a right to voice his/her opinion freely and criticize the functioning of the Government. The same should be done in a decent manner and un-parliamentary language should not be adopted.

State needs to be more tolerant and circumspect while invoking laws pertaining to sedition and religious disaffection.

Petitioner has been in custody for 6 months and 14 days and it seemed that the trial could not be concluded at an early date and since no other criminal case was pending against the petitioner, Court granted him regular bail.[Jasbir v. State of Punjab, Crl. Misc. No. M-19376 of 2020, decided on 30-10-2020]


Jasraj Singh, Advocate for the petitioner

Sidakmeet Singh Sandhu, AAG, Punjab.

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