BENGALURU: Utterances such as “the Prime Minister should be hit with footwear” in a play are “derogatory” and “irresponsible”, but don’t legally make a fit case to slap the charge of sedition, the
bench of the Karnataka high court ruled while quashing the case filed against
, for a 2020 anti-CAA drama featuring students.
“Constructive criticism of government policy is permissible, but constitutional functionaries cannot be insulted for having taken a policy decision, for which certain sections of the people may have objection,” Justice
said in his June 14 ruling, uploaded to the high court’s website on Wednesday.
Based on a complaint filed by activist
, a sedition case had been registered at
police station in Bidar against Shaheen Education Society that runs the school.
Referencing the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Kedar Nath Singh vs State of Bihar case, Justice
said a citizen had the right to criticise or comment on decisions by the government and its functionaries as long as that wasn’t tantamount to inciting violence or public disorder. “It is only when words or expressions have pernicious tendency or intention of creating public disorder or disturbance of law and order that Section 124-A can be invoked,” he said.
In the case of Shaheen School, Bidar, it was alleged that the institute enacted a play in which children were made to criticise various enactments of the government and say dialogues like “Muslims may have to leave the country”, besides speaking disparagingly about the PM.
“There are no words uttered by the children inciting people to resort to violence or to create public disorder. The play was also not within the knowledge of the general public at large, and it was made known only when the other accused uploaded the play on his Facebook account,” the court said.
“Hence, by no stretch of imagination can it be said that the petitioners herein enacted the play with an intention to incite people to resort to violence against the government, or with an intention of creating public disorder. The registration of an FIR for the offence under Sections 124-A and 505(2) in the absence of essential ingredients is impermissible.”
The judge noted, however, that exposing children to political issues “corrupts their young minds”. He said shools should not teach children to criticise government policies and insult the “constitutional functionaries for having taken a particular policy decision”.