NEW DELHI: A day after an FIR was lodged against nine eminent personalities and 40 unnamed people on charges of sedition and assumptions prejudicial to national integration, legal experts expressed concern over non-application of judicial mind by trial court judges and said that the case will fall flat in the appellate courts.SC lawyer Anas Tanvir said, “The magistrates cannot act like a post box of complaints. They have to apply their judicial mind before admitting such cases. This is stifling the freedom of speech and express. In a democracy it is not seditious to be critical of the government.”
Those named in the FIR had written an open letter to PM Narendra Modi raising concern over the growing incidents of mob lynching. Senior advocate and NCP leader Majid Memon said, “It’s such a shocking thing that the court has ordered an FIR. How can disliking or criticizing someone become an offence and that too of sedition. It’s like there is one ruler and a monarch and no citizen has any right to criticize government’s policies or actions. This case won’t stand in the appellate court.”
Former Solicitor General Biswajit Bhattacharya also expressed concern and said, “This is a new jurisprudence energy in India whether or not it will stand judicial scrutiny will test the strength of our democracy.”
The FIR at Sadar Police Station came on the order of Chief Judicial Magistrate Surya Kant Tiwari on a petition filed by advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha on July 27. Ojha has filed several cases against celebrities and politicians in the Muzaffarpur district court, including former PM Manmohan Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif and Arvind Kejriwal.