MUMBAI: The BJP-led Maharashtra government today said that its circular on sedition, which has triggered a row for ostensibly trying to invoke sedition charges for criticising the political establishment, got lost in translation and promised to bring a revised version.
The admission came close on the heels of the Bombay High Court today restraining the government from acting on the August 27 circular, issued to prevent misuse of section 124A of IPC which deals with sedition, till the state files a reply to two petitions challenging the constitutional validity thereof. "The circular that we had issued pertaining to sedition charges was based on the judgement of the (high) court (delivered) in English. But we were then accused of curtailing the freedom of people. We have read the circular and the Home department has nothing to do with the translation. It was translated by the Law and Judiciary department," said Additional Chief Secretary K P Bakshi.
He was referring to the high court order earlier on cartoonist Assem Trivedi who was arrested on September 8, 2012, on the basis of an FIR under section 124A and other provisions of IPC for cartoons published on "India Against Corruption" website, and later granted bail. The circular stoked a huge controversy as it apparently tried to invoke sedition charges for criticising the political leaders and received flak from all sections.
Bakshi also said that the revised version of the circular will soon be brought out and submitted to the HC. "Our view is that the Law and Judiciary department got confused with certain sentences of the order while translating it in Marathi. The Law and Judiciary department has now suggested corrections and soon the revised version of the circular will be presented before the court," he said.
The circular had stated that those attempting to bring into "hatred or contempt, dissatisfaction and provoking violence" against the central or state government will be slapped with sedition charges. Despite the heat generated by the circular, the government stuck to it while maintaining that it only translated the court's guidelines from English to Marathi.
The opposition has accused the government of trying to curtail the fundamental right of people to freedom of speech through the circular. The constitutional validity of section 124A of IPC was challenged in the HC by two petitions--one by Trivedi and three others while the other by advocate Narendra Sharma.