Senior lawyer Kaleeswaram Raj has in a letter to the chief justice of Karnataka High Court sought the quashing of the sedition case filed against student activist Amulya Leona Noronha for chanting “Pakistan zindabad”.
In the letter to Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, the Supreme Court lawyer argued on the basis of certain precedents and judgments against IPC Section 124A that deals with sedition.
“Legal background and sense of constitutionalism persistently remind me that no offence whatsoever is made out against this young student and the high court could be justified in taking up the matter suo motu and quashing the case,” Raj wrote.
Arrested on February 20 soon after chanting “Pakistan zindabad” at a protest in Bangalore against the citizenship matrix, Amulya was sent to custody after being booked for sedition.
Raj cited news reports, including the one carried by The Telegraph on February 22, to highlight how Amulya was possibly trying to repeat lines from her own tweet that said: “Be it any country, zindabad to all nations.” While being dragged away from the stage, Amulya had also chanted “Hindustan zindabad”.
“The student probably wanted to communicate the idea that love for one’s country need not necessarily reflect hatred for another and long life for all the nations is a feasible and desirable goal,” Raj wrote to the chief justice.
Through the letter, Raj apprised the chief justice about the open threats issued by several leaders. “Shockingly, a local leader offered an amount of Rs 10 lakh for killing this student,” Raj said.
Sanjeev Maradi, a Bellary-based leader of the Right-wing Sri Rama Sene, had offered the bounty to anyone who kills Amulya.
“It is also reported that some at the helm of affairs pleaded for a law ‘to shoot’ the ‘anti-nationals at sight,” Raj wrote, referring to such a demand by some BJP leaders in Karnataka.
Raj admitted that cognisance of the matter related to Amulya could not be taken purely based on media reports. “Further verification of more details may be necessary. But fact that the student is arrested and charged under the above said provisions for shouting zindabad for several countries simultaneously is almost clear,” he wrote.
He noted that the sedition law had been “either abandoned or put to disuse in several democracies”.
“Even (in) the Kedar Nath (verdict), while upholding the provision, the top court held that a mere statement does not make out an offence of sedition,” Raj wrote.
The Supreme Court verdict read: “Comments, however strongly worded, expressing disapprobation of actions of the government, without exciting those feelings which generate the inclination to cause public disorder by acts of violence, would not be penal.”
Raj pointed out that Amulya’s conduct “does not reveal anything that reflects promotion of enmity between different groups. It perhaps does the opposite.”