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HC extends order asking state not to act on sedition circular

Bombay High Court

Mumbai :  The Bombay High today extended its interim order restraining Maharashtra government from acting on its controversial circular issued to prevent misuse of IPC section 124-A which deals with sedition.

A bench of Justices V M Kanade and Shalini Phansalkar- Joshi extended the interim order till the government files a reply to two petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the August 27 circular.

Government pleader Usha Kejriwal sought time on the ground that she had to seek instructions whether the state government would withdraw the controversial circular or issue a new one incorporating changes therein.

The judges posted the matter for hearing on November 27 and asked the government to take a stand on the issue.

One petition was filed by famous cartoonist Aseem Trivedi and three others, while the other one was filed by advocate Narendra Sharma.

Bhau Tausekar, a journalist in Tarun Bharat, intervened today to support the government circular, saying the state was empowered in extreme and rare circumstances to invoke the anti-sedition law whenever there is rebellion among people or when members of public are incited against obeying laws.

The impugned circular, which has sparked a row, has laid down certain conditions required to be considered for initiating action against a person under section 124-A of IPC.

According to the petitioners, the impugned circular of August 27 was unconstitutional and violated fundamental rights of a citizen.

Cartoonist Trivedi was arrested on September 8, 2012, on the basis of an FIR under section 124-A (sedition) and other provisions of IPC for cartoons published on ‘India Against Corruption’ website. However, on a PIL, Bombay HC had granted him bail.

Later, the state government, on the advise of Advocate General, had dropped the charge though the case under other provisions of IPC continued against him.

The circular laid down conditions to be observed while invoking sedition offence. This circular has now been challenged by Trivedi and others.

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