'Ranas breached limits of freedom of speech, but not sufficient reason to invoke sedition,' declares the court in the Hanuman Chalisa case

by Web Desk | Published: 06 May 2022

BMC Elections 2022
In its detailed order, the special court that granted bail to legislator couple MP Navneet Rana and MLA Ravi Rana, arrested in the Hanuman Chalisa row, stated that while the duo undoubtedly crossed the line of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and expression, a mere expression of derogatory or objectionable words may not be sufficient grounds to invoke the charge of sedition. On Wednesday, the couple was given relief.
The court stated that it looked on the surface that they had used exceedingly offensive language and sentences against the chief minister. The court's Special Judge R N Rokade, who is overseeing the cases of MPs and MLAs, also declared that political leaders played a vital role in promoting peace and tranquility. The court stated, "Their energy is recognized because they have followers - people who believe in what they say and behave accordingly." As a result of their position of authority, politicians and other political personalities bear a bigger responsibility, and the impact of a political speech is also greater.
It went on to say that, while their remarks and actions were reprehensible, they could not be stretched too far to fall under the Indian Penal Code's sedition section. In his reasoning, Judge Rokade stated that it was well-established that the provision could not be used to punish criticism of persons currently engaged in the administration or strong words used to express disapproval of government measures to improve or alter them through legal means. "Similarly, statements expressing disapproval of government activities, however strongly phrased, that do not elicit thoughts that lead to the desire to cause public disorder through acts of violence would not be penalized," the ruling stated.
According to the directive, citizens had the right to say or write whatever they wanted about the government or its policies in the form of criticism or comments, as long as they did not incite people to violence against the government or intend to cause public disorder. The court stated that after reviewing the FIR, the prosecution did not prove that the announcement (to recite Hanuman Chalisa) was made with the intent to provoke individuals to commit acts of violence. It was said that the proclamation had no intention of undermining the government by violent means.
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