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The Court was hearing a plea filed by Bhushan seeking quashing of an FIR registered against him for “hurting Hindu religious sentiments” through his tweets.
The Supreme Court today granted Advocate Prashant Bhushan protection from arrest in relation to an FIR filed against him for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.
The Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna was hearing a plea filed by Bhushan seeking quashing of an FIR registered against him in Rajkot, Gujarat for “hurting Hindu religious sentiments” by using objectionable language against the Ramayana and the Mahabharata being telecast on Doordarshan.
Bhushan had made comments on Twitter against Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, who tweeted a picture of himself watching the Ramayana serial amidst the national lockdown.
The lawyer had tweeted:
“As crores starve and walk hundreds of miles home due to the lockdown, our heartless ministers celebrate consuming and feeding the opium of Ramayana & Mahabharata to the people!”
While hearing the plea today, Justice Bhushan observed that no one can direct anyone to watch something on TV.
“Anybody can watch anything on TV. How can you say people cannot watch this and that?"
To this, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Bhushan, said,
“It was not about people watching TV, but the FIR in question.”
Ultimately, the Bench issued notice to the State of Gujarat. Till a reply is received from the state government, Court has ordered that “no coercive action" is to be taken against Bhushan.
The plea filed through Advocate on Record Kamini Jaiswal states that no offence is made out against Bhushan prima facie, and that the FIR amounts to an infringement of his fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression.
Bhushan further stated in his plea that his retweets were valid criticism of the government, and that it cannot be termed as an offence under Section 505 (1)(b) of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with the act of creating alarm or fear to the public inducing them to commit an offence against public tranquility.