BY- ANSHUMAN SRIVASTAVA
On Tuesday a Sessions Court judge in New Delhi granted bail to Disha Ravi, a 22-year-old climate activist, who was arrested for sedition for allegedly creating toolkit with secessionist groups and sharing them on various social media platforms with the intention to create “disaffection” against the government of India and disrupt the public order under the garb of supporting the farmers and their protest.
Ravi’s counsel argued that her actions are protected by the rights of freedom of speech and expression as enshrined under Article 19 of the Constitution of India. On the other hand, the Ld. Additional Solicitor General, while arguing against the granting of bail, said that it was essential for the accused to stay in police custody in order to prevent evidence tampering.
The court held that one of the key elements required to constitute the crime of sedition against Ravi is either violence or incitement of violence, and as the evidence of inciting violence was absent in the concerned documents. The judge observed that the said “Toolkit” does not reveal any call for any type of violence. Adding to it he stated that citizens are conscience keepers of government in any democratic nation. Hence, they can’t be put behind bars just because they choose to disagree with the policies of the state.
On the allegation of gathering the support of famous international personalities like climate activist Greta Thunberg to further her “secessionist” cause, the judge held that no evidence had been found to support this claim. The judge further stated that the right to dissent is firmly enshrined under Article 19 of the Constitution of India and freedom of speech and expression includes the right to seek a global audience. There are no geographical barriers to communication.
Disha Ravi was granted bail due to lack of evidence and no prior criminal convictions.