The Bombay High Court today slammed Mumbai Police for arresting cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on “frivolous” grounds and “without application of mind”, saying its action breached his freedom of speech and expression.
“How can you (police) arrest people on frivolous grounds? You arrest a cartoonist and breach his liberty of freedom of speech and expression,” a division bench of justices D Y Chandrachud and Amjad Sayyed said while hearing a PIL filed by lawyer Sanskar Marathe claiming Trivedi’s arrest was illegal and unjustified.
The Kanpur-based cartoonist, arrested last Saturday on sedition charges, was released two days back after the high court granted him bail amid mounting public outrage.
Observing that Trivedi’s arrest was prima facie “arbitrary”, the court said, “We have one Aseem Trivedi who was courageous enough to raise his voice and stand against this, but what about several others whose voices are shut by police.”
Noting that the police would have to satisfy the court as to how the sedition charge was applied against the young cartoonist, the judges said they intended to lay down certain parameters for application of the law of sedition.
“If there are no parameters there will be serious encroachment of a person’s liberties guaranteed to him in a civil society,” the bench said.
It said the sedition law was a pre-independence provision when government wanted protection from the citizens.
“What is the government’s stand now? Does it intend to drop the charge? someone has to take political responsibility for this. Why did the police not apply its mind before arresting him on sedition charges,” the court wanted to know.