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Law

Bidar Court Says Play on CAA by School Students Was Not Seditious

The Principal District and Sessions Court made the observation while granting anticipatory bail to five members of the school.

New Delhi: The district and sessions court in Bidar on Thursday ruled that the play staged by some children of Shaheen Urdu Medium School against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) does not amount to sedition.

The Principal District and Sessions Court made the observation while granting anticipatory bail to five members of the school, citing lack of material for a prima facie case of sedition.

Granting bail, district judge Managoli Premavathi observed, “What the children have expressed is that they will have to leave the country if they do not produce the documents and except that, there is nothing to show that the school has committed the offence of sedition.”

The dialogue ‘does not lead to hate or contempt towards the government’, the judge said, according to reports. “The drama has not caused any disharmony in the society,” the judge stated in her order.

Section 124A of the IPC, which deals with sedition, says that “whoever brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards… the government shall be punished with imprisonment for life…”.

Also Read: The Contrasting Police Responses to a Play Against CAA and Reenactment of Babri Demolition

The case caught the public eye after two women – the mother of an 11-year-old student and a teacher at the school – were arrested on charges of sedition over a play staged in the school on January 21. Nazbunnissa, the mother of a student who delivered dialogues about Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the play, and Fareeda Begum, the head teacher of the school’s primary section were arrested based on a complaint by a right-wing activist alleging sedition. The play voiced dissent against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) and was staged by students of classes 4,5, and 6.

“In the country, there are rallies and protests for and against CAA, NRC and, as a citizen, everybody has the right to express disapprobation of the measures of the government with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means. The dialogues were expressed during the course of enacting a play in the school,” the judge said, according to the New Indian Express.

“So far as the offence under Section 153A of IPC (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, language) is concerned, there is no reference of any other community in the play. All that the artists have said is that Muslims will have to leave the country if they do not produce the documents as required under the proposed CAA, NRC Acts. When there is no other religion mentioned in the entire play, there is no question of causing disharmony between two religions,” the order says.

Bidar Superintendent of Police Nagesh D.L. said the judge’s observations were only in respect of the order granting anticipatory bail to the five members of the management. It will not be part of the ongoing trial against the staff, the parent and the management members of Shaheen Urdu Medium School, he said.

The Bidar police were criticised for ‘interrogating’ students at the school at least five times for the play, which was held on January 21 at the school. They later arrested two women – the mother of an 11-year-old student and a teacher at the school – were arrested on charges of sedition. They were released on bail in mid-February.

It may be recollected that the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking a proper mechanism to deal with alleged misuse of the sedition law.