The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliates welcome
the quashing of sedition charges brought against two journalists and the Times of India daily newspaper in
Ahmedabad city in the western Indian state of Gujarat.
complaint was filed in June 2008 by O.P. Mathur, then police commissioner
of Ahmedabad, against Bharat Desai and Prashant Dayal, journalists with the
city edition of the Times of India.
This followed the publication of a series of reports in the newspaper
questioning Mathur’s appointment to the post and laying out some issues in his
service record which were likely to impede his effectiveness.
The newspaper also ran an opinion poll which revealed a high degree of reader
scepticism about Mathur’s appointment to the top police post in the city.
In quashing the charges of sedition, the Ahmedabad High Court held that
the intent of the articles in question was to inform and to elicit reader
opinions, not to incite disaffection of violence.
India’s Supreme Court held as far back as 1962, that the sedition
clauses of the penal code were contrary to the fundamental rights provisions of
the constitution, unless invoked to deal with imminent threats of violence.
“We welcome this
decision by the Indian court and call for a degree of urgency in dealing with
other cases that victimise journalists under laws such as the Official Secrets
Act”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.
“We call for an
emphatic affirmation, similar to that given by the Ahmedabad High Court, of the
fundamental rights to speak and seek information”.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950
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