Monday, 30th October 2017

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Plea in SC against school play sedition case

The petitioner sought apex court direction for a proper mechanism to deal with government misuse of the sedition law

By PTI in New Delhi
  • Published 22.02.20, 3:12 AM
  • Updated 22.02.20, 3:12 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Children being questioned by police Photo Courtesy: Footage available on Social Media

A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the sedition case registered against a student’s mother and a Karnataka school management for allegedly allowing students to stage an anti-CAA-NRC play with references to “Modi”.

The petition seeks the quashing of the FIR against the mother, the primary section principal and other staff of Shaheen School at Bidar who have been booked under Sections 124-A (sedition) and 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) of the Indian Penal Code.

In the petition filed on Thursday, social activist Yogita Bhayana has also sought an apex court direction for a proper mechanism to deal with alleged government misuse of the sedition law.

Section 124-A of the IPC says that “whoever brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards... the government shall be punished with imprisonment for life”.

Bhayana has sought a direction to the Centre and the Karnataka government “to quash the FIR registered in connection with seditious charges against the school management, teacher and a widowed parent of a student for staging a play criticising the CAA, NRC and the NPR”.

The petition said police had “questioned students, and videos and screenshots of CCTV footage showing them speaking to the students were shared widely on social media, prompting criticism”.

It quoted the school principal who had alleged that “on one occasion, police in uniform questioned students, with no child welfare officials present”.

The plea said the “proceedings were violative of Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of the Constitution and abuse of process of law”.

“Issue an order directing the Centre to constitute a committee to scrutinise complaints under 124-A IPC and adhere to judgments by the apex court before registering the FIR under Section 124-A IPC,” the petition said.

The skit was staged on January 21 by students of Classes IV, V and VI. The sedition case against Najbunissa, the widowed mother of a 10-year-old student of the school who has been accused of scripting the skit, Fareeda Begum, the head teacher of the primary wing

of the school, and the school management was filed based on a complaint by social worker Neelesh Rakshyal on January 26.

Najbunissa and Fareeda had to spend a fortnight in police custody before being released on bail last Saturday.

The complainant had alleged that the school authorities “used” the students to perform a drama where they “abused” Modi in the context of the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.

In the play, a child asked her mother — played by Najbunissa’s daughter — about “Modi” asking for documents to prove their citizenship. The “mother” had responded: “If anyone asks for documents, hit them with slippers.”