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HindustanTimes Fri,01 Aug 2014

Arrest of cartoonist 'over-stretched', 'uncalled' for: Cong

PTI  New Delhi, September 10, 2012
First Published: 19:33 IST(10/9/2012) | Last Updated: 19:38 IST(10/9/2012)

The Congress party on Monday disapproved of the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on the charge of sedition saying the action was a bit "over-stretched" and "not called for".

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At the same time, the AICC advocated for "reasonable restrictions" on freedom of speech and called for respecting the national emblems.

The remarks by the AICC spokesperson Manish Tewari came as the party-led government in Maharashtra said it was trying to seek the release of the artist who has been charged with sedition.

"I have no hesitation in saying that the arrest is a bit too far over-stretched...over reaction is certainly not called for...we are not in favour of arrest," Tewari told reporters at the AICC briefing.

While noting that "a society, which fails to laugh at itself, runs the risk of getting atrophied, he at the same time posed the question "does freedom of speech mean doing everything is fair deal?

Tewari, however, said there are certain national emblems and symbols that have to be respected by all.

Referring to an arbitration going on in the Supreme Court on freedom speech, he said "perhaps we have not reached the golden median as yet between where the freedom of expression ends and reasonable restrictions begin. The jury is still out on that."

His remarks came close on the heels of Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni maintaining that UPA government is not in favour of "censorship but self-regulation" by the media.

The Kanpur-based cartoonist was arrested by Mumbai Police on Saturday on the basis of a complaint which alleged he posted seditious content on his website. The complaint was filed in December by a member of Republican Party of India.

Tewari said as a comlaint was filed, it would have been better had the police filed the chargesheet and left it to the court to decide, instead of arresting and jailing Trivedi before any court judgement.


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