Sambit Patra
Sambit Patra
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Chhattisgarh HC grants Sambit Patra interim relief in plea to quash FIRs over tweets against Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi [Read Order]

Justice Sanjay K Agrawal has directed that no coercive action be taken against Patra until the next hearing which has been fixed after four weeks time.

Meera Emmanuel

The Chhattisgarh High Court on Thursday granted Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson, Sambit Patra, interim relief in a plea challenging two FIRs registered against him over tweets against former Prime Ministers, Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi (Dr Sambit Patra v. State of Chhattisgarh and ors).

Justice Sanjay K Agrawal has directed that no coercive action be taken against Patra until the next hearing which has been fixed after four weeks time.

The Court granted the interim relief after also taking on record Patra's submission that he had only recently been discharged from the hospital following treatment for COVID-19.

Last month, Patra had tweeted that Jawaharlal Nehru was responsible for the Kashmir issue. In the May 10 tweet, Patra had also stated that Rajiv Gandhi was responsible for the stealing in the Bofors scam and for the death of 3,000 people in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. Two FIRs were lodged over the tweet.

In the plea to quash the same, Senior Advocate Ajay Barman argued for Patra that the ingredients of the offences charged against him under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between groups), 298 (uttering words to deliberately wound religious feelings) and 505 (2) (public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) were not made out.

As far as the defamation offences charged were concerned, it was contended that cognizance of the same could not be taken on the basis of a police complaint. Relying on Section 199 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), Barman argued that there has to be a written complaint.

The Court was also told that Patra had only recently been discharged after having been diagnosed with COVID-19 and that he was in quarantine. As such, it was submitted that Patra's health may be jeopardised if interim relief is not granted and if he is arrested thereafter.

Recording these submissions, the Court proceeded to grant Patra interim relief, stating,

"Considering the submissions of learned counsel for the parties and further considering the contention of the petitioner that the petitioner is a patient of COVID-19 and has recently been discharged from hospital and is undergoing quarantine for 14 days, and in view of the provision contained in Section 199 (1) of the CrPC, it would be expedient to direct that till the next date of hearing, no coercive steps shall be taken against the petitioner pursuant to FIR under Crime No. 192/2020 registered against the petitioner… for offences punishable under Sections 499, 500, 501 and 505 (1) of the IPC; and FIR under Crime No. 200/2020… for offence punishable under Sections 153A, 298 and 505 (2) of the IPC. "

Along with Barman, Advocates Awadhesh Singh, Ramakant Mishra and Sharad Mishra also appeared for Patra. Additional Advocate General Sunil Otwani appeared for the State.

The Court has issued notice returnable in four weeks on the plea.

Read the order:

Dr Sambit Patra v. State of Chhattisgarh and ors. - Chhattisgarh HC order - June 11.pdf
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