Haryana and Punjab High Court granted bail to a Punjab resident, who was held under sedition after he went live on Facebook, allegedly criticising the functioning of the government concerning the lockdown period amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
While granting bail, the court said citizens are free to voice their opinion on the functioning of the government till the time any unparliamentary language is not being used.
"In a democracy, every citizen has the right to voice his/her opinion freely and criticise the functioning of the government. However, the same should be done in a decent manner, and unparliamentary language should not be adopted," The Indian Express quoted the court's remark.
The judge made the observation while hearing the case of one Jasvir Singh, resident of Hoshiarpur, Punjab, against whom an FIR was registered on April 14 at Tanda Police Station.
According to the complaint, Jasvir went live on Facebook and made statements against the unity and integrity of the nation.
"Jasvir aimed his statements at causing communal disaffection. Thus, the FIR mentioned above was registered among other things for offences of sedition, hurting religious sentiments and causing communal disaffection," the FIR read.
The police booked Jasvir under sections 115, 124-A, 153-A, 505 (2), 295, 188, 269, 270, 271, 506 of IPC, section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
He was in custody for over six months. "There is no other criminal case pending against the petitioner. An examination of the utterances made by the petitioner shows that the offences of sedition and inciting communal disaffection are not attracted so that the petitioner may be granted regular bail," Jasvir's advocate, Jasraj Singh stated while filling the bail plea.
A single-judge bench Justice Sudhir Mittal took the decision. Mittal said that it appears Jasvir was dissatisfied the way pandemic was being handled by the Government of India and the state government. Hence, he has criticised the functioning of the governments. Though he has used abusive language, it does not amount to disaffection towards the government and to inciting religious disaffection or disruption of communal harmony.