Saturday, October 23, 2021

How can criticism be seditious?

What about the alleged third degree on an MP?
Why implicate two TV channel?
How can there be an FIR without a complaint?

Registering an FIR without complaint and use of third degree against MP Raghurama Krishnam Raju have created sensation in two Telugu states and consumed substantial time of all Telugu TV Channels.

YSR Congress Party rebel MP Raghurama Krishnam Raju and two TV Channels are slapped with sedition cases, surprisingly without any complaint on suo motu motion. Perhaps a first of its kind in Independent India. There is no formal complaint against the ruling party’s revolting MP from any quarter.  MP reportedly told the CBI special court judge that police has wrapped a hot iron wire around his legs and beaten demanding withdrawal of bail petition, videographed the torture.

The FIR is dated 14th May 2021, has a column 6 where the name of complainant or informant should be given. There it says “Sumoto case. Based on the Enquiry report of DIG, CID, AP, Mangalagiri, Guntur District, dated 13.5.2021. vide C No.4656/c-76/CID/2021”.

Also read: AP CID releases official note on Raghurama’s arrest

In the column number 7, where details of known/suspected/unknown/accused with full particulars, three entries are given: 1. Shri Raghurama Krishnam Raju, MP, Media Houses. 2. TV5 TV channel, ABN TV channel and others. These are supposed to be ‘full details”.

In column 12, where the complaint should be attached, it refers that after enquiry ADG, CID directed to constitute FIR on an enquiry report and contents are summarized: It talks about hate speeches of MP on various channels and alleged that he made every attempt to create hatred, contempt disaffection towards the Government, through his words and visual gestures of face and hands to provoke his followers to take up violence, which are seditious in nature.  In second para the FIR alleges targeting of Reddy community and Christian community and tried to stoke hatred by portraying that the Government is favouring the two and that he was causing public disharmony.

Also read: Raghurama Krishnam Raju arrested

Two media channels were also implicated saying that the organized slots have clearly shown that there was a meeting of minds of Sri Raju with the heads of these media channels and the conspiracy between them. It also alleged that all the speeches looked like a well-orchestrated conspiracy to create disaffection and to bring contempt against Government.

It is not known where from the enquiry was originated by CID. Generally, it is complained that in spite of complaint the police were not registering the FIR. Here is a new situation where FIR is filed suo moto by the police against an MP and without a complaint.  Sedition under Section 124 A, 153A, and Section 505 IPC promoting enmity between communities, were invoked by police.

Also read: Raghurama Krishnam Raju has to wait for bail

Section 505 IPC (b) says: Whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report—with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquillity;  .. (c) with intent to incite, or which is likely to incite, any class or community of persons to commit any offence against any other class or community, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years or with fine, or with both, (2) Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes.

The content of the speech or TV talk of the MP Raghurama Raju could be objectionable or not acceptable, but how could it be ‘seditious’ is the question. 

Also read: Raghurama complains CID used third degree on him

It is an open secret that the police use third degree against suspect or accused, but it is surprising that a ruling party MP was allegedly  subjected to torture. The photos of the injuries to the legs of the MP went viral among the social media channels. The photos were presented to the High Court bench also.

This excessive act of AP Police has been criticised as atrocious, illegal and against the norms of the Constitutional and criminal justice.

Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Author is Dean, Professor of law at Mahindra University at Hyderabad and former Central Information Commissioner. He published a number books in English and Telugu.

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