IFJ Welcomes Quashing of Sedition Charges in India’s Gujarat State


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.


A criminal

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”.



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