Former Supreme Court Judge Deepak Gupta commented on the ‘toolkit’ which led to the arrest of 21-year old climate activist Disha Ravi and said that he could not see anything "seditious" about the document.
"Every citizen of this country has a right to oppose the government so long as the opposition is peaceful", said Justice Deepak Gupta during a panel discussion on NDTV conducted by journalist Sreenivasan Jain, on the lacunae in the legal proceedings pertaining to Ravi's arrest.
After saying that he read the 'toolkit' document as available in the public domain, the former judge commented : “I see that there is nothing in the toolkit on anything with regard to violence or anything with regard to inciting people…I don't see what is seditious about this document. One may or may not agree with the protestors, that is a different matter. But to say that this is sedition is totally not understanding the law”.
Referring to the 1962 Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar case, wherein the constitutional validity of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code was upheld by the Supreme Court, he stated that sedition could only take place if there was incitement to violence or public disorder, which was absent in the instant case.
"The sedition law was framed by the imperialistic, colonialist ruler, the British empire, who wanted to rule over India. Even at that time, the law made sedition a grave crime, punishable with life imprisonment…I was hoping that with our experiences of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi being sent behind bars for sedition, we would have abrogated this law, or at least toned down this clause. But, unfortunately, this law is being misused", said Justice Gupta.
Justice Gupta, who was present along with senior lawyers Rebecca M. John, Sidharth Luthra and Vikas Singh, and Advocate Abhinav Chandrachud, stated th at the arrest of Ravi was an attack on freedom of speech and expression, and that every citizen had the right to oppose the government peacefully.