Prayagraj, Dec 25 : In a landmark judgment, the Allahabad High Court has said that “expressing dissent on law-and-order situation in a state is a hallmark of a constitutional liberal democracy like ours, and the same is constitutionally protected under Article 19 of the Constitution (that guarantees right to freedom of speech and expression)”.
The court made the observation while quashing an FIR lodged against a person for his alleged remarks that the “Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh has transformed the state into a jungle raj in which no law and order prevails”.”
Allowing a writ petition filed by one Yashwant Singh, who had made this remark against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on his Twitter handle, the High Court said it did not “find, even remotely, a commission of offence” under two sections mentioned in the FIR.
The FIR was registered on August 2, 2020 under Sections 500 (defamation) and 66-D (offence of cheating by personation by using computer resource) of Information Technology (Amendment) Act at Bhognipur police station in Kanpur Dehat district.
The FIR alleged that Singh had also made reference to various incidents of abduction, demand of ransom and murders in his tweet.
The counsel for the petitioner challenged the FIR before the court, contending that right to comment on the affairs of the state is well within his constitutional right envisaged under Article 19 of the Constitution.
The counsel said: “Mere dissent does not amount to criminality.The FIR has been lodged with a malicious intention to coerce the petitioner to stop expressing his dissent against the state government.Hence, no offence is made out against him.”
However, during the court proceedings, the state counsel opposed the submissions of the petitioner’s counsel.
While quashing the FIR and the entire consequential proceedings against the petitioner, a division bench comprising Justice Pankaj Naqvi and Justice Vivek Agarwal said: “We, after analysing the above provisions regarding allegations made in the FIR, do not find even remotely a commission of offence under Section 66-D, as the provision relates to cheating by impersonation.