Gujarat court cites misuse of process of law while acquitting Jignesh Mevani
In a series of tweets, Mevani cited the court’s observations and said they have been acquitted in a frivolous case registered for carrying out a protest
Misuse of power and process of law for suppressing people’s voice is not unknown even in democratic setups and it is the duty of rulers of every democratic nation to protect freedoms without any fear of criticism, a court in Gujarat’s Mehsana said while acquitting Congress lawmaker Jignesh Mevani in an unlawful assembly case.
“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and under a just God, cannot long retain it,” additional sessions judge CM Pawar said in his judgment on Wednesday, quoting 16th American President Abraham Lincoln.
Pawar said if in a democratic setup, every dissent and peaceful protest is branded as an offence, then the right of freedom has no place there. He called deliberations, discussions, debates, and bona fide dissent against the government’s policies and criticism of its inaction essential for democracy while describing the 2017 case as baseless.
A magistrate’s court last year sentenced Mevani and nine others to three-month imprisonment and fined them ₹1,000 fine each under Indian Penal Code’s Section 141 (unlawful assembly) for organising a rally without police permission.
Pawar acquitted them saying that the right to peaceful protest is guaranteed under Constitution’s Article 19.
“...nowadays misuse of [the] power of statutory authority and misuse of process of law for suppressing [the] voice of people and showing [the] dominance of power is not unknown even in [a] democratic set-up,” he said.
“Therefore, this court reminds that it is the pious duty of ruler of every democratic nation to protect [the] right of freedoms of citizens without any fear of criticism for [the] survival of ethos of democracy in the nation...”
Pawar said in democratic setups, elected leaders are not meant to rule over the people but to serve them.
In a series of tweets, Mevani cited Pawar’s observations and said they have been acquitted in a frivolous case registered for carrying out a protest. “Satyamev Jayate [truth alone triumphs]!” he tweeted.
Mevani and others were booked for organising the rally related to the public flogging of Dalits in Una by alleged cow protectors over the skinning of a dead cow in 2016.
Authorities initially granted permission for the rally before cancelling it citing public disorder. The organisers went ahead with the rally and were subsequently booked.
Days before his conviction in May, the Assam Police arrested Mevani for his allegedly offensive tweets against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.