The Allahabad High Court, in a judgment, said that dissenting in a state is a hallmark of liberal democracy.
The bench of Justice Pankaj Naqvi and Justice Vivek Agarwal said that “expressing dissent on law-and-order situation in a state is a hallmark of a constitutional liberal democracy like ours, and the same is constitutionally protected under Article 19 of the Constitution (that guarantees right to freedom of speech and expression).”
The Court said this while hearing a plea to quash FIR against a Yashwant Singh for alleging that “Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (Yogi Adityanath) has transformed the state into a jungle raj in which no law and order prevails.”
The High Court observed that it did not “find, even remotely, a commission of offence.”
The FIR was registered for two charges-
- Defamation (Section 500)
- Cheating by using computer resource under the IT (Amendment) Act (Section 66-D).
The petitioner argued that he made the comments over Twitter under his rights mentioned in Article 19 of the Constitution.
The counsel representing the petitioner said, “Mere dissent does not amount to criminality. The FIR has been lodged with a malicious intention to coerce the petitioner to stop expressing his dissent against the state government. Hence, no offence is made out against him.”
The bench also said:
“We, after analysing the above provisions regarding allegations made in the FIR, do not find even remotely a commission of offence under Section 66-D, as the provision relates to cheating by impersonation.”