The Supreme Court will hear on Friday a writ petition filed by eminent writer Ashis Nandy for a direction to quash the FIRs registered against him in various States under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, for his speech made during the recent Jaipur Literature Festival.
A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices Anil R. Dave and Vikramajit Sen posted the matter for Friday on a ‘mention’ made by counsel Aman Lekhi, appearing for Dr. Nandy about the filing of the petition and pleading for early listing.
In his petition, Dr. Nandy said: “During the session held on January 26, a topic of corruption in India was raised and Mr. Tarun Tejpal brought out the issue that perhaps the corruption in our country is a great class equaliser as India is an extremely class-ridden society and there is a great disparity between the rich and the poor. It was also brought to the discussion that the underprivileged people having no advantage of elite education or elite background of admission to elite clubs are breaking through on the basis of their intelligence and their hunger and are very often subverting the rules that the elite class has made.”
He said based upon the said context and in order to highlight that the underprivileged were often subject to harsh scrutiny, limelight and statutory actions than the elite class, he expressed his point of view with great degree of humanity and stated that “it will be a very undignified and vulgar statement on my part that the most of the corrupt comes from the OBCs and Scheduled Castes and now increasingly Scheduled Tribes, and as long as this is the case, the Indian Republic will survive.”
He said that after the festival organisers felt that his remark might cause misunderstanding among a particular community, he immediately apologised for the hurt that he might have unintentionally caused.” However, he came to know about registration of the FIRs for his remark at the police station at Sarangarh in Raipur and the police station at Sarkarwada in Nashik for offences under the SC/ST Act.
He said, “It is an admitted fact that there is neither any intentional insult nor intimidation with intent to humiliate any member of the SCs and the STs so as to attract the provisions of Section 3 of the SC/ST Act, 1989 or Section 506 of the IPC.”
He said, “The registration of the FIRs was an abuse of law and there was imminent danger of the same being compounded as he was being denied of his fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution. The lodging of the said FIR against the petitioner for the alleged offence committed under Section 506 IPC and Section 3(1)(x) of SC/ST Act, 1989 is against the basic principles of fundamental rights which envisages that free speech is the foundation of a democratic society. The actions of the respondents are illegal, are in violation of the fundamental rights and in fact contrary to the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the SC/ST Act, 1989 and contrary to the basic principles of democracy where the government is by the people by virtue of open discussions.”