SC dismisses PIL against Farooq Abdullah, says dissent isn’t sedition

Top court imposes a fine of Rs 50,000 on petitioners for filing a frivolous PIL; Farooq Abdullah was accused of sedition for his statement that for restoring Article 370 he would take help of China

SC dismisses PIL against Farooq Abdullah, says dissent isn’t sedition

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the expression of views that are different from the opinion of the government cannot be termed seditious.

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 3

Maintaining that dissent can’t be termed as sedition, the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a PIL seeking action against former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah for his comments on nullification of Article 370 of the Constitution.

"The expression of a view which is dissent from a decision taken by the Central Government itself cannot be said to be seditious. There is nothing in the statement (of Abdullah) which we find so offensive as to give a cause of action for a court to initiate proceedings,” said a Bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul.

Noting that the petitioners had nothing to do with the issue, the Bench said: “This is clearly a case of publicity interest litigation for the petitioners only to get their names in press.”

It imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on the petitioners and ordered them to deposit the amount with the Supreme Court Advocates Welfare Fund within four weeks, saying: “We must discourage such endeavours.”

Petitioners Rajat Sharma and Dr Neh Srivastava of Vishwa Guru India Vision of Sardar Patel alleged that Abdullah was trying to "hand over" Kashmir to China and thus, he should be prosecuted for sedition.

"Farooq Abdullah has committed an offence punishable under section 124-A of Indian Penal Code. As he has made the live statement that for restoring Article 370 he would take help of China which clearly amounts to seditious act and therefore he is liable to be punished under section 124-A of the IPC," the petitioners submitted.

They referred to his alleged statement demanding restoration of Article 370 – which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir – and calling upon people of Jammu and Kashmir to join China for the purpose.

The special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution was revoked on August 5, 2019 and political leaders of the erstwhile state, including Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and others were placed under preventive detention. They were released after several months.

The Supreme Court is seized of several PILs against nullification of Article 370 and division of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.

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