Freedom of speech includes the right to seek a global audience: Top quotes from Disha Ravi’s bail order

She was named 'key conspirator' behind the dissemination of a toolkit for the January 26th farmer's protests originally created by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg
Last Updated 01 April 2021, 10:18 IST

On Tuesday, 22-year-old activist Disha Ravi was granted bail by a Sessions Court in Delhi, much to the dismay of the Delhi Police.

She was named "key conspirator" behind the dissemination of a toolkit for the January 26th farmer's protests originally created by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. However, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana granted Ravi bail on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh and two sureties of like amount. He also stated that the charge sheet has "scanty and sketchy evidence" and the accused had “absolutely no criminal antecedents”.

Here are some of the most notable quotes from the judgement:

- “Citizens are conscience keepers of government in any democratic nation. They cannot be put behind bars simply because they choose to disagree with the State policies. The offence of sedition cannot be invoked to minister to the wounded vanity of the governments.”

- "This 5,000 years old civilisation of ours has never been averse to ideas from varied quarters. Holding that difference of opinion, disagreement, divergence, dissent, or for that matter, even disapprobation, are recognised legitimate tools to infuse objectivity in state policies" (citing Rig Veda).

- “Since the link with the said toolkit or PJF has not been found to be objectionable, mere deletion of the WhatsApp chat to destroy the evidence linking her with the toolkit and PJF, also becomes meaningless.”

- “In my considered opinion, freedom of speech and expression includes the right to seek a global audience. There are no geographical barriers to communication. A citizen has the fundamental right to use the best means of imparting and receiving communication, as long as the same is permissible under the four corners of law and as such have access to an audience abroad.”

- "Considering the scanty and sketchy evidence available on record, I do not find any palpable reasons to breach the general rule of ‘Bail’ against a 22-year-old young lady, with absolutely blemish-free criminal antecedents and having firm roots in the society, and send her to jail.”

- “Investigating agency can’t be permitted to further restrict the liberty of citizen on basis of propitious anticipations.”

- “Even our founding fathers accorded due respect to the divergence of opinion by recognising the freedom of speech and expression as an inviolable fundamental right. The right to dissent is firmly enshrined under Article 19 of The Constitution of India.”

- “I’m also conscious of the fact that the investigation is at a nascent stage and police is in the process of collecting more evidence, however, the investigating agency made a conscious choice to arrest the applicant accused upon the strength of material so far collected and now they cannot be permitted to further restrict the liberty of a citizen on the basis of propitious anticipations.”

- “Still further, there is nothing on record to suggest that there was any call, incitement, instigation or exhortation on the part of the applicant/accused and the above-said organisations and its associates to foment violence on January 26, 2021.”

- “In the absence of any evidence to the effect that the applicant/accused agree or shared a common purpose to cause violence on January 26, 2021, with the founders of PJF, it cannot be presumed by resorting to surmises or conjectures that she also supported the secessionist tendencies or the violence caused on January 26 simply because she shared a platform with people, who have gathered to oppose the legislation."

Furthermore, the Court stated that even if the contents of the toolkit could be called mischievous or exaggerated, they were not seditious as there was no incitement to violence.

(Published 24 February 2021, 05:02 IST)

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