Observing that expression of a view which is dissent from a decision taken by the Central Government itself cannot be said to be seditious, the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a PIL seeking action against National Conference president Farooq Abdullah over his comments on abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution.
A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta rejected the plea and also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on the petitioners for making such claims and directed them to deposit the amount with the Supreme Court Advocates Welfare Fund within four weeks.
“The expression of a view which is dissent from a decision taken by the Central Government itself cannot be said to be seditious. There is nothing in the statement which we find so offensive as to give a cause of action for a Court to initiate proceedings.
“Not only that, the petitioners have nothing to do with the subject matter and this is clearly a case of publicity interest litigation for the petitioners only to get their names in press. We must discourage such endeavours,” the bench said.
The top court was hearing a plea which referred to his statement on restoring Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and contended it clearly amounts to a seditious act and therefore he is liable to be punished under section 124-A of the IPC.
The petition filed by Rajat Sharma and Dr Neh Srivastava, both belonging to an organisation Vishwa Guru India Vision of Sardar Patel, alleged that the former chief minister is trying to “hand over” Kashmir to China and thus, he should be prosecuted for sedition.
“Mr Farooq Abdullah has committed an offence punishable under section 124-A of Indian Penal Code. As he has made the live statement that for restoring Article 370 he would take help of China which clearly amounts to seditious act and therefore he is liable to be punished under section 124-A of the IPC,” the plea said.
The petitioners also referred to a statement made by BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra to claim that Abdullah is misleading the people of Jammu and Kashmir to join China for the restoration of Article 370 of the Constitution.