The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday, 14 June, quashed a sedition case registered against the management of Shaheen School in Bidar for staging a play critical of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
A single-judge bench of Justice Hemant Chandangoudar allowed the petitions filed by four members of the school management and quashed the proceedings initiated against them under Indian Penal Code sections:
504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace)
505(2) (Statements conducing to public mischief)
153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony)
The FIR, registered in 2020 after students belonging to classes 4, 5, and 6 had staged a play on the CAA and National Register of Citizens (NRC), alleged that the students were instructed to utter words that instilled anti-patriotic feelings and that they were asked to hurl abusive comments against Prime Minister Modi.
The complaint also alleged that the children were trained to say that if the parliament enforced the CAA, NRC, and National Population Register (NPR), then Muslims would have to leave the country.
The court, however, found no evidence to support these allegations. The court observed that the play was not seditious, and that it did not incite violence or hatred. The court also observed that the children were not forced to participate in the play, and that they were free to leave if they did not want to participate.
The headmistress of the school and a student’s mother in north Karnataka’s Bidar district were arrested 30 January, over charges of sedition and provoking breach of peace.
A sessions court had released them on 14 February 2020.
(With inputs from Bar and Bench)