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Amnesty International row: Govt ‘paranoid’ for pressing sedition charge, says Karnataka HC

A single-judge Bench of Justice Anand Byrareddy granted bail to the former police official, V Shashidhar, and the two others in the sedition case here Thursday.

Written by Johnson T A | Bengaluru |
August 28, 2016 1:10:26 am
amnesty, amnesty row, abvp complaint amnesty, amnesty sedition, amnesty india, amnesty case, bjp on amnesty, congress on amnesty, india news, latest news Students and ABVP activists shout slogans at a protest in Hubli on Wednesday demanding immediate arrest of the accused booked under sedition charges for shouting anti-national slogans at an event of Amnesty International India. (PTI Photo)

THE KARNATAKA High Court has called the state government “clearly paranoid’’ for pressing sedition charges and arresting a former policeman and two others for attempting to rally state police personnel to participate in a protest against low wages and poor working conditions in June this year.

A single-judge Bench of Justice Anand Byrareddy granted bail to the former police official, V Shashidhar, and the two others in the sedition case here Thursday.

Shashidhar, president of Akhila Karnataka Police Mahasangha, was arrested from his Bengaluru home past midnight on June 2. Basavaraj Koravankar, of Working Police Families Welfare Committee, and Gurupadayya, husband of a police official, was arrested in Dharwad the same day. They were accused of instigating police personnel — in an effort at “destabilisation of the government”, according to one of the charges — to go on mass leave on June 4.

While granting conditional bail to the trio, Justice Anand Byrareddy observed: “There is no evidence of the entire police force rising in mutiny at the behest of the accused. The apprehension expressed by the State (government) of a state of anarchy and disorder on account of the petitioner’s campaign is clearly paranoid.”

The court observed that the trio’s right “to tell the world…(about) plight of members of the lower rungs of police officer ought not to be curbed”.

Bengaluru and Dharwad police had registered cases against the three under IPC Sections 166 (public servant disobeying the law), 109 (abetment), 120B (criminal conspiracy), and 124A (sedition); Section 5 of Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1981; Section 4 of Police (Incitement of Disaffection) Act 1966; and Section 4 of Police Forces (Restriction of Rights) Act, 1966.

Justice Byrareddy observed in his order that the most serious charge brought by the police against Shashidhar and the others was that of sedition. “From a perusal of the smattering of material made available, it is evident that accused no. 1 (Shashidhar) has been aggressively espousing the cause of the lower rungs of the police force, and the appalling conditions of service under which they function,’’ the court said.

In arguments against grant of bail, the Karnataka government said arrests and confinement were necessary to prevent a complete breakdown of law and order in the state and destabilisation of the government. Shashidhar’s public speeches and posts on social media showed that a “virulent campaign’’ to create hatred and disaffection against the state, the police force and the public was afoot, the government contended.

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