‘Sedition charge slapped against advocate lacks prima facie evidence’
Advocate Sanaojam Samachoron Singh alias Sanou was arrested on April 12 for allegedly abusing ‘mainland Indians’ and using derogatory language against Union Home Minister Amit Shah during a discussion hour of a local TV channel.
Updated 20 Apr 2022, 9:27 am
The Judicial Magistrate First Class, Imphal West-II (duty magistrate) has stated that prima facie evidence is found lacking in the act of slapping sedition law against an advocate for allegedly abusing ‘mainland Indians’ and using derogatory language against Union Home Minister Amit Shah during a discussion hour of a local TV channel.
In a recently released bail order of advocate Sanaojam Samachoron Singh alias Sanou, the duty magistrate stated that the words and the language used by the advocate does not make out a case of imposition of such serious allegation against him which entails that he be sent to police custody.
Although the court found that the use of some words were avoidable and were in bad taste, it cannot by any stretch of imagination be termed prima facie seditious, the court stated.
“Freedom of speech and expression is one of the most sacred fundamental rights enshrined in our constitution. Everyone is entitled to express their voices and opinion on issues that they feel strongly whether it be favourable or against the government,” it stated
Sanou was arrested following a complaint filed by the president of BJP Yuva Morcha, Manipur M Barish to the Imphal police station on Monday. The discussion was hosted by a local TV channel a day after the union home minister gave a statement that Hindi language would be made compulsory till class 10 in the Northeastern states including Manipur. The move was opposed by many, including the opposition, and student bodies among others.
As per the complaint, the lawyer during the discussion hour held on April 9 not only abused the “mainland Indians” but also used “foul and derogatory” language against the Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
After watching the clip and hearing the submissions of both the counsels, the court asked the prosecution to produce or point out other content or sections of the videos, if any, which they found more foul, derogatory or offensive. But the prosecution stated that the main content on which the offences were alleged and the FIR was registered was based on the video that was played.
The court determined the remand prayer and the bail application based entirely on the 4-minute video that was produced and played in front of the accused.
After hearing the clip and the submissions of both counsels, the court opined that the statements made by the accused person was made to highlight his opinion of the undesirability of making Hindi compulsory in school. It was made during a talk show where there are conflicting views on the topic amongst the participants, the court observed.
“The statements of the accused person were prima facie not offensive or derogatory or foul to such extent to send the accused person into custody. The accused person having participated in the talk show seemed to have passionately made his point by using the said statements which is now the crux of the FIR being launched against him,” stated the court.
Further, the prosecution failed to show that the accused person is likely to abscond and that there’s a possibility of the accused person to hamper and tamper with evidence, the court stated.
It further stated that the accused person is a practising advocate in the state and is shown to be a person of good social standing, thus making the likelihood of him fleeing justice unlikely.
Hence, the remand prayer by the prosecution for police custody of the accused person is rejected and released on bail on his execution of PR bond 30,000 with surety like amount.
However, the court while releasing him made conditions that he shall not leave the state without informing the investigating officer of the case; he shall join the investigation as and when called upon by the investigating officer; he shall not tamper with the evidence of the case nor influence other witness of the case, and shall appear before the court when called upon.
First published:19 Apr 2022, 4:41 pm
Amit ShahHindi languageSanaojam Samachoron SinghSanouderogatory remarksseditionprima facie evidence
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