A Sessions Court judge in Delhi granted bail Tuesday to 22-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi, who was arrested for sedition for allegedly creating documents with secessionist groups and sharing them on social media with the intention to create “disaffection” against the government of India and disrupt public order under the garb of supporting the farmer protests.
The counsel for the accused argued that her actions are protected by the rights of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 of the Constitution of India. On the other hand, the Ld. Additional Solicitor General, arguing against granting of bail, said that it was necessary for the accused to stay in police custody to prevent tampering with evidence.
The judge held that one of the key elements required to constitute the crime of sedition is violence or incitement of violence, and evidence of inciting violence was absent in the concerned documents. The judge stated:
The perusal of the said “Toolkit” reveals that any call for any kind of violence is conspicuously absent. In my considered opinion, citizens are conscience keepers of government in any democratic nation. They cannot be put behind the bars simply because they choose to disagree with the State policies.
On the allegation of garnering support of famous international personalities like Greta Thunberg to further her “secessionist” cause, the judge held that there is no evidence to support this claim. The judge further stated that, “The right to dissent is firmly enshrined under Article 19 of the Constitution of India. In my considered opinion, the freedom of speech and expression includes the right to seek a global audience. There are no geographical barriers on communication.”
The judge granted bail due to lack of evidence and no prior criminal convictions of the accused.