New Delhi: Justice Madan B. Lokur (Retd.) has said that the Supreme Court had sought to teach Prashant Bhushan that one should tweet on his own risk.
Justice Lokur was speaking at the BG Verghese Memorial Lecture 2020 at a webinar organised by The Media Foundation, and hosted by the India International Centre.
While elaborating on the theme, "Preserving and protecting our fundamental rights – Freedom of Speech, Expression and the Right to Protest," Justic Lokur lamented that "freedom of speech is being eroded and mauled through twisting and turning the law if not abusing it altogether."
The retired justice made critical comments with respect to the executive's action and abuse of law, in the Hathras case, Kafeel Khan case, Pinjra Tod member Devangana Kalita case, etc. He said that despite the apex court had laid down the sedition law clearly and cogently as early as 1962, the authorities have found various ways of weaponizing the sedition laws.
"Some cynics glibly suggest that if the speaker is not guilty, he or she will be acquitted of the charges framed, but the fact of the matter is that detention as an under-trial is a gut-wrenching experience for anyone and particularly for a person whose cries of innocence fall on deaf ears. Such a person looks to the judiciary for protecting his or her freedom of speech and liberty but gets overwhelmed by the painfully slow justice delivery system."
The case of preventive detention of Dr. Kafeel Khan was, Justice Lokur said, a classic instance of cooking up a case against a person "with the intention of putting him behind bars for several months."
Justice Lokur lambasted that the establishment prefers to act against the weak and defenceless with what was recently described as an iron hand rather than against the privileged who can get away by saying anything.
Referring to the Hathras gang-rape case, Justice Lokur noted that the use of Section 144 of the CrPC to keep the media out of the area, was nothing but an "egregious violation of the freedom of the Press through a bizarre abuse of law.
He urged the authorities to understand that the different points of views must be respected, "otherwise the fabric of our society might disintegrate.."