IMPHAL, June 24: RK Ranendrajit who edited ‘The Freedom Manipur’, a now defunct newspaper, was acquitted from charges of sedition under section 124-A of IPC after 17 years on Tuesday.
A copy of the order has been sent to the District Magistrate, Imphal West in compliance with provisions of Section 365 CrPC.
According to RK Ranendrajit’s defence lawyer Khaidem Mani, Justice A Guneshwar Sharma of the District and Sessions Judge, Manipur East gave the final verdict on the case and concluded it Tuesday.
“No evidence of RK Ranendrajit committing sedition against the state of Manipur or Union of India with criminal intentions can be established. A prima facie case against sedition can’t be established, as any instance of causing of disaffection, hatred and contempt against the government are not found on record,” he said.
Mani said that Section 124-A IPC is not applicable to the opinions expressed by the accused in the editorial column of his English daily “The Freedom Manipur” on September 12, 1997, adding that the defendant’s editorial was making a fair criticism of the Government’s policy and action in very strong words.
The mandatory sanction from the competent authority under sanction 196(1) CrPC was not obtained from the proceeding against the accused for the offence punishable under Section 124-A IPC, he reported.
Public Prosecuter Kh Bimola alleged that on September 12, 1997, the then Officer-in-Charge of Imphal Police Station S Mahendra registered an FIR and a suo mottu case against RK Ranendrajit’s editorial ‘Eclipse Month’ on his local daily.
The police tried to arrest Ranendrajit under 359(9)97of IPS u/s 124-A IPC. But before his arrest, he was bailed out. After a few years, police had submitted charge sheet before the court of Justice M Binoykumar, District Magistrate, Imphal West. Later it was transferred to Session Judge, Manipur East.
Kh Mani further mentioned that such editorials were also written in previous editions too on 12/9/97, 4/1/97, 30/1/97, 29/1/97, 17/2/97, 16/3/97 and 27/4/97.
“There were no suggestions of anti-India feelings in his editorials but simply an expression of the people of Manipur and northeast to be treated equally with people from the rest of the India. So the editorial has no seditious, inflammatory languages and ill-feelings to neither government of India nor government of Manipur. There is no protest, movement, agitation and public meeting against the government resulting from that editorial and no process has been constructed to demolish the government of India till now by people of Manipur,” he said.