The Gujarat High Court on Friday (6th November) quashed a sedition case registered against a journalist Dhaval Rajnikant Patel for allegedly publishing a report on a possible change in state leadership due to criticism over the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the State.
The background of the case is that Dhaval published an article in the Web Portal called “Face the Nation” wherein he stated that looking to the failure of the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Gujarat, he is likely to be replaced. The replacing of CM comment led to the filing of a complaint against him by the CID crime branch and therefore, the petitioner moved an application before the High Court for the quashing of the complaint which was entertained and placed for final hearing. The counsel for the petitioner rendered an unconditional apology wherein he stated, “I tender my unconditional for allegedly offending article published by me in my web portal face of the Nation basis which the impugned FIR has been registered against me. An unconditional apology is without prejudice and without admission of any guilt”.
The Court observed that, “Since the present petitioner is a young journalist and he has begun his career and that from the deepest corner of his heart, the petitioner has tendered apology as quoted above and therefore, this Court is satisfied with the apology tendered by the petitioner”. The Court was of the opinion that the interest of justice would be served if the proceedings/FIR is quashed. The petitioner was asked that when he may publish an article in the future, no such comments be used against any constitutional functionaries without verification and he shall be cautious of not repeating the same. Dhaval Patel, as per a report of the Indian Express, was booked under Indian Penal Code Section 124A for sedition and Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 which states punishment for false warning by the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch. The bench of Justice Sudhir Mittal remarked that, “The State needs to be more tolerant and circumspect while invoking laws pertaining to sedition and religious disaffection. The current tendency to the contrary has been frowned upon by the Supreme Court of India.