September 11, 2012 · 0 Comments
Sedition charges against cartoonist Aseem Trivedi are likely to be dropped in the next 24 hours. According to a report, the cartoonist will now be charged for insulting the national emblem. Facing sedition charges under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, along with other offences under the Information Technology Act, Trivedi was arrested in Mumbai late on Saturday and sent to seven days police custody by a magistrate Sunday.
After questioning him for a day, police decided not to grill the cartoonist any further. He was produced again before a court which sent him to judicial custody till Sep 24.
The government faced a mounting domestic and international backlash on Tuesday over the arrest of a cartoonist on sedition charges as critics accused it of using colonial era laws to crush dissent.
The arrest at the weekend of Aseem Trivedi, a freelance cartoonist and anti-corruption campaigner, sparked outrage from activists who say that the authorities in the country have become increasingly intolerant of criticism.
Media rights group Reporters Without Borders called for the immediate and unconditional release of Trivedi, who has refused to apply for bail saying that he wants all charges dropped.
“The prosecution and detention of the cartoonist are a gross violation of freedom of expression and information,” the Paris-based organisation said.
Trivedi’s arrest came shortly after the Central government ordered more than 300 websites, social networking pages, Twitter accounts and other online content to be blocked in an attempt to halt the spread of rumours about ethnic violence.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) echoed calls for Trivedi to be freed in a case that has sparked widespread debate about freedom of expression in India.
“Criminalising Aseem Trivedi‘s efforts to highlight the serious problem of corruption is a perverse exercise of power and runs completely counter to India‘s democratic principles,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator.
Trivedi was arrested in Mumbai under laws governing sedition, information technology and protecting India‘s national flag and Constitution after a private complaint from a young lawyer based in the city.
A court on Monday ordered the cartoonist to be held in custody until September 24.
Law minister Salman Khurshid has insisted that the Indian court system is independent of the government, adding that “there is rule of law and an appropriate procedure. I am sure that the law will take its own course”.
In the most famous recent sedition case, doctor and human rights activist Binayak Sen was jailed for life in 2010 for allegedly helping Maoist rebels.
He was freed on bail last year on the instructions of the Supreme Court which ruled that the sentence should be suspended.
The government has recently shown sensitivity to criticism of its leaders, with the government responding angrily to a Washington Post article on the struggling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has been hit by a string of graft scandals.
Accusations of intolerance over satirical cartoons surfaced in May when lawmakers reacted in fury over an old cartoon being used in school textbooks lampooning BR Ambedkar, author of Constitution.
By Web Editor