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The Calcutta High Court on Monday granted interim relief to an oncologist against whom an FIR was registered for posting on social media over alleged deficiencies in the protective gear given to doctors treating COVID-19 patients.
The oncologist had moved the Court in a writ petition after he was interrogated by the police, after the FIR alleging the commission of an offence under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code was registered.
The petitioner also told the Court that his mobile phone and SIM card were seized during the lengthy interrogation.
While granting the petitioner interim relief, Justice IP Mukerji also made pertinent observations against State intimidation of citizens for expressing opinions their opinions as an extension of their freedom of speech. In this regard, the orders states,
The Court added that such coercive action may, however, be used when a person misuses his/her freedom to spread unnecessary fear and panic.
Calcutta High Court
While this was the case, the Court opined that prima facie, the ingredients of the offence charged seemed to be lacking in the instant case. The judge also noted that the oncologist’s post was acknowledged and appreciated by a government authority on social media.
All the same, the Court proceeded to direct that the petitioner refrain from making any more posts on the topic for now. In this regard, the order reads,
Calcutta High Court
This apart, the Court disposed of the writ plea while directing the police officers not to take further coercive action against the petitioner, without the leave of the appropriate court. The judge has directed as follows:
The police should immediately return the mobile phone and SIM card of the writ petitioner to him.
No further interrogation of the writ petitioner is allowed without the leave of a proper court.
The State may start a criminal case against the writ petitioner without arresting him, if at all the evidence prima facie discloses an offence.
Liberty of the petitioner can only be curtailed by orders of the said court to be passed in a properly instituted proceeding.
[Read the Order]