19-year-old IT student, D. Ajit from Kerala, has been slapped with a criminal case for initiating an Orkut community criticising Shiv Sena, for its “moral policing.” The case was registered after complaint by a Shiv Sena official by Thane police in 2008.
Ajit, had asked Supreme Court to dismiss the case under Article 19 of Consttitution. However, today SC denied to do so on grounds of “reasonable restrictions” stated in clause (2) of article 19. These reasonable restrictions are:
I. security of the State,
II. friendly relations with foreign States,
III. public order,
IV. decency and morality,
V. contempt of court,
VII. incitement to an offence, and
VIII. sovereignty and integrity of India.
It is not clear to me which clause this particular act fall into? Defamation? As per Hindu, this is what SC court said:
“You should not have indulged in such activity. You are a student of IT. You are doing something on internet and you should know about it,” the Bench said refusing the plea of his lawyer that there was any malafide intention in putting the contents on the internet.
Perhaps this same clause, also called libel, was used by NDTV to silence the blogger. Unknown to most of us, another media blog has been shut down in past by libel threats by Times of India due to threat for ‘libel’. What do you think about the issue? What can we do about it? Or we should be more careful in what we write?
This point also brings me to other important issues related to judiciary. Are you aware of amendements government has proposed to Section 41 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)? As per the new proposed amendments, there will be no arrests in offenses carrying upto 7 years imprisonment.
Some of the offenses with 7 years or less as maximum penalty are:
- Attempt to commit culpable homicide
- Death by negligence
- Voluntarily causing grievous hurt
- Outraging a woman’s modesty
- Attempt to suicide
Due to several expereinces , I do not trust police. Hence, I can say that influencial and biggies will easily run loose for offences listed above , without arrests, with co-operation from police. Also, it also leaves you open to police atrocities because police will now be able to issue notice against you or call you to police station whenerver they ‘receive creditable information’ or have ‘suspicion’ or have been ‘witness’.
I do not say that existing Section 41 has not been misused by police. But amendments to existing Section 41 gives police even more power.
Existing Section 41 says, a police officer may, without an order of a magistrate and without a warrant, arrest any person who has been concerned in any cognisabale offense. As per Vakilno1., the amendment in CrPC, however, still does allow police to arrest without an order from a magistrate and without a warrant a person who commits a cognisable offense but “in the presence of a police officer”. !!
Lawyers too have been protesting against these proposed amendment throughout the country. Bar is against CrPC amendment. There are also different reasons for lawyers to protest. (See the colourbox in the image above.) There are changes in Section 309 of CrPC that make lawyers’ role limited. Read this interview.
Read complete text of proposed amendments to CrPC. There are many more amendments to CrPC that are good (like Section 164 and Section 173), but Section 41 and Section 309 amendments appear to be hindering our freedom.
Cartoon via Brainstuck.com and news clipping via Hindustan Times