Pathalgadi case: SC notice to Jharkhand
Pathalgadi, having its origin in a resistance movement by tribals during British rule, is a practice of raising huge stone plaques at village outskirts with warnings to outsiders not to enter and declaring the gram sabha,or village council, the only sovereign authority.Updated: Sep 20, 2019 12:03 IST
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has issued notice on a petition challenging a Jharkhand high court judgement, refusing to quash a sedition case registered against four tribal activists for allegedly inciting violence by writing Facebook posts supporting the so-called Pathalgadi movement of the Munda tribal community.
The four petitioners have also been booked under section 66A of the Information and Technology Act, a provision the top court had struck down in 2015. While upholding the registration of the case against them, the HC had allowed criminal proceedings to continue even under the IT law.
Pathalgadi, having its origin in a resistance movement by tribals during British rule, is a practice of raising huge stone plaques at village outskirts with warnings to outsiders not to enter and declaring the gram sabha,or village council, the only sovereign authority.
A bench led by Justice LN Rao sought response from the Jharkhand government to the petition filed by J Vikash Kora, Dharm Kishor Kullu, Emil Walter Kandulna and Ghanshyam Biruly. They allegedly incited Munda tribal members in Khunti village to attack police officers on June 26, 2017.
As per the police case four policemen posted as security guards of sitting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Khunti, Kariya Munda, were abducted by the villagers. This was in retaliation to a police attack on the village while a gram sabha was in progress in Ghagra.
The charges say the four misled and influenced the “innocent tribals” as members of an organization called ‘Adivasi Mahasabha’ and ‘A.C. Bharat Sarkar Kutumbh Parivar’. The petitioners said they had nothing to do with the organization, the village or had in any way participated in the attack by the villagers. The sole allegations against the petitioners is that they had posted some messages on Facebook.
The HC single bench of justice Rongon Mukhopadhay refused to quash the first information report after observing that the Facebook posts reflected the intention of the activists to commit sedition. Some of the posts read as “I don’t want your Aadhar card; My identity is Patharganj; All constitutional steps should be taken so that England, USA and United Nations feel compelled to act for the freedom of tribals.” The petitioners have denied having any link with such messages.