Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sedition charge on finance minister Arun Jaitley for slamming SC’s NJAC ruling

NEW DELHI: A UP court has slapped sedition charges on finance minister Arun Jaitley for criticizing the Supreme Court's recent decision striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) for selection of judges to the higher judiciary. 

Taking suo motu cognizance of Jaitley's criticism of the verdict, civil judge of Mahoba in Jhansi district Ankit Goel summoned him to be present before him on November 19. Goel had earlier issued summons against SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav for his purported comment that allegations of gang rape could often be fabricated.

The judge in his order said the finance minister's blog 'Indian democracy cannot be a tyranny of the unelected' prima facie amounted to sedition under Section 124A as well as causing public mischief under Section 505 of Indian Penal Code. The court said under Section 190 of Criminal Procedure Code, it was entitled to take cognizance of the statements which were published in various newspapers. 

Section 124A says "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 under the section". 

Several people, including constitutional experts, have criticized the verdict of the apex court which on October 16 quashed the NJAC Act and revived the two-decade-old collegium system for appointment of judges. The finance minister, writing in his personal capacity, had held that the SC's verdict striking down the 99th constitutional amendment to turn the appointment of judges into an exclusive prerogative of judiciary was tantamount to rewriting the Constitution. 

Saying that the SC was acting like a third chamber of the legislature, he suggested that the verdict was biased against the political class and was a prescription for "tyranny of the unelected".  Noted criminal lawyer Amarendra Saran termed the civil judge's order "atrocious". "Just and fair criticism of the court's verdict is allowed in our country and it is a part and parcel of evolution of law. We do criticize the order every day in court proceedings and that is why appeal is filed," he said.

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