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The Kalaburgi Bench of Karnataka High Court recently issued notice in a plea seeking to quash the Sedition charges levelled against Shaheen School in Bidar over a play concerning the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) staged last month.
A Single Judge Bench of Justice HB Prabhakara Sastry passed the order in the matter.
As per the complaint filed against the school's management, minor children were instructed to utter words that instilled anti-patriotic feelings and further to hurl abusive comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In view of the complaint, charges under Sections 504, 505(2), 124A, 153A and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) were initiated against the Shaheen School management.
Moreover, it was stated in the complaint that children were trained to say that if the Parliament enforced the CAA, National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), then Muslims of the country would have to leave the country.
The petition filed by Allauddin Syed Pasha states that based on the above allegations, an FIR was lodged sans any justification.
In this regard, the petitioner submits that in order to attract the provisions of Sedition under Section 124 A of Indian Penal Code (IPC), mere statements made, as alleged in the complaint, are not sufficient. The necessary ingredients of the provisions of the above section are absent in the present case, the plea noted.
Moreover, even if it is conceded that all allegations made in the complaint are taken to be true, the offence of sedition is not attracted, the petition states.
The petition further states that,
“The accused Nos. 1 and 2 are not arrayed by the name of any individual. The naming of an institute or an unidentified person or persons, is not known to the Cr.P.C. Therefore, the very registering of the complaint, is bad in law.”
The petition further submitted that a complaint cannot be registered unless a preliminary investigation by a police officer not below the rank of Inspector has been made, and such preliminary investigation is considered by the Central or state government and sanction is granted thereafter. The plea further notes that no such investigation was conducted and that no sanction had been obtained in the present case.
The plea also states that the allegations made in the complaint do not even remotely or implicitly indicate that there is any attempt to create hatred or incite any emotion of hatred or contempt.
The plea also states that nothing against the government was spoken. The drama only makes a mention against an individual. In this regard, the petition states,
"In the complaint, it is not stated that there is anything spoken against the Government. The only allegation is that, in the school play, the statement is made referring to the Hon’ble Prime Minister. A mere reference to an individual does not mean that, there is anything spoken against the Government."
Karnataka High Court
In light of the above, the petition has prayed to quash all the proceedings pertaining to Sedition against the management of the school. Additionally, the petition also sought an interim stay of all the proceedings against the school management.
Advocate Ameet Kumar Deshpande will be appearing on behalf of the petitioners.
Last week, the Karnataka High Court had issued notice in another PIL seeking action against the police for illegally questioning minor students of Shaheen Education Society in Bidar.
Last week, a Bidar Court had granted bail to the headmistress and parent of a student who had been in judicial custody since 30 January on charges of sedition.
[Read the petition here]