Nalini Balakumar and Maridevaiah S who were arrested during protests at the University of Mysore against the Citizenship Amendment Act (2019) for displaying the ‘Free Kashmir’ placard were granted bail by a Mysuru city court.
Nalini was booked under Section 124A (sedition) and Section 34 (common intent) of the Indian Penal Code and the court ordered them to be released on bail on their executing a personal bond for a sum of Rs. 50,000, each with one surety for the like sum in the event of their arrest by the police, reported Bar and Bench.
The bail was granted by Additional District and Sessions Judge Jerald Rudolph Mendonca who stated that the offence alleged against Balakumar was not exclusively punishable with death or imprisonment for life.
Regarding freedom of speech, the court opined that an opinion expressed by a person must be free and not a forced one.
The judge said, “The freedom of speech is the right to form an opinion after getting the correct and full information about an issue and express the same. This would also help an individual to exercise his option if he is called upon to do so in a given situation. This is necessary for the success of democracy.”
The Court took into account that Nalini cooperated with the court, did not have any criminal antecedents or connections with any banned outfits and that she had accepted immediately that she was the one holding the placard, apart from further explaining her stand in the matter.
Soon after the incident, Nalini had apologized to the public and police and explained that through the placard she was only trying to highlight the internet shutdown imposed in Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370.
The News Minute reported that at the time of the incident, members of the Mysuru Bar Association had decided not to represent her saying that they had decided to “not represent or provide legal services to the person involved in anti-national activities.”
However, a few days after this, around 169 lawyers from the state, including senior advocates stepped up and signed a vakalatnama offering to fight for her release.
In the same vein, the counsel appearing for the government had argued that Nalini not be granted bail as her actions were ‘anti-national’ and said that by opposing the CAA and holding the ‘Free Kashmir’ she held an anti-government view, especially when the government was working to ensure peace in the region.
The lawyers appearing for Nalini defended her stance speaking about her right to expression. They told TNM, “We also argued that she was referring to the imposition of Section 144 clampdown of internet services, and detentions of mainstream leaders in Kashmir through the poster. She did not propagate separatist ideology or show a poster claiming that Kashmir should be free.”
The protest that Nalini attended on January 8 was organized by Dalit Student Organization and Mysore University Research Students’ Association three days after the attack on the students and faculty of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) by a masked mob.
The entire bail order may be read below.