Written by: Ayushi Singh (Intern)
Edited by: Anubhav Yadav (Content Head & Developer)
The Supreme Court of Justice cancelled sedition lawsuit against the journalist Vinod Dua in Himachal Pradesh for alleging that the government was addressing the migrant situation during the Covid-19 lock-down last year, against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Vinod Dua, in his YouTube program ‘The Vinod Dua Show’, made remarks which could have incited communal hatred and would have led to a breach of peace and communal disharmony.
At the Supreme Court, the Himachal Pradesh government, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, argued that Dua tried to promulgate misinformation or incorrect information and panic the general public – “for example, the declaration that some fear food riots after lock-up were found to be unstable and had a clear potential to spread pandemic.
The Bench relied primarily on the reasoning described in Dua’s Kedar Nath ruling. The ruling of Kedar Nath issued in 1962 confirmed Indian sedition law’s constitutional legitimacy. The Supreme Court has ruled in the case Kedar Nath Singh vs. state of Bihar (1962) Section 124A IPC that “acts which involve a purpose or inclination to cause disruption of law shall be restricted to the application of those provisions; or instigation of violence.”
Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code states: “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.” Every journalist has the freedom of Kedar Nath Singh protection because each prosecutor under Sections 124A and 505 of the IPC is to be fully in accordance with and fully compatible with the legislation made in the Kedar Nath Singh’s provisions of the extent and scope of these Sections.”
Two Judges, Justice U U Lalit and Justice Vineet Saran, quashed the case. It held that his comments were authentic and not seditive criticism of the government. Dua had also requested that, unless it had been stipulated that FIRs should be made up of a committee composed of each State Government composed of the Head of Justice or a Judge designated by him, the Leader of the Opposition and Home Secretaire, against people belonging to the media with at least ten years’ standings, the court order the registration of FIRs.
The Court stated that the formulation of the Committee would involve an invasion of the parliamentary domain, while such screening committees were constituted by physicians’ courts and for instance for domestic abuse. “It must, however, be clarified that each journalist has the right to protection for Kedar Nath Singh because, as stated in, and fully in accordance with laws in Kedar Nath Singh’s, every prosecution under Sections 124A and 505 of the IPC3 must conform strictly to the scope and extent of these Sections.” the Court added.