The Punjab and Haryana High Court has said the State needs to be more tolerant and circumspect while invoking laws pertaining to sedition and religious disaffection.
The observations came in the backdrop of a bail application filed by one Jasbir who has been in jail for six months after being accused of making statements against the unity and integrity of the nation and aiming at causing communal disaffection.
Granting bail to the accused, Justice Sudhir Mittal said on October 30 that the accused was unhappy with the lockdown imposed due to the corona virus and the way the pandemic was being handled by the Government of India as well as the Punjab Government. He had criticized the functioning of the said Governments.
Intemperate and abusive language had definitely been used against high officials of the Governments as well as against the elected representatives, but the same does not amount to inciting disaffection towards the Government established by law or to inciting hatred against it, the judge said.
It does not even amount to inciting religious disaffection or disruption of communal harmony, the judge added. It is an expression of dissatisfaction with the functioning of the Government and criticism of its policies.
“In a democracy, every citizen has a right to voice his/her opinion freely and criticize the functioning of the Government. However, the same should be done in a decent manner and unparliamentary language should not be adopted”, the Court said.
The article was originally published in The Leaflet.