The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the arrest of Ashis Nandy for the controversial remark he made at the Jaipur Literature Festival on January 26 but made it clear to the sociologist that his statements should not “disturb” others.

A Bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices Anil R. Dave and Vikramajit Sen granted the stay on a writ petition filed by Dr. Nandy challenging registration of First Information Reports against him in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Bihar. The Bench issued notice, returnable in four weeks, to the Centre and the three States. In the meantime he should not be arrested, it said.

Even as counsel Aman Lekhi began his submissions and asked the court whether a law could penalise an idea, the CJI shot back: “Why not? When an idea is not in the public interest, he can be. Whatever your intent, you can’t go on making statements. Tell your client he has no licence to make such comments.” It was not a question of an idea being punished but the manner in which it was made. “Every person has his own idea, but it should not disturb others. Statements are to be made in a responsible manner. Why do you say something which you don’t intend?”

When counsel said the FIRs were registered in several places, the CJI said: “Because the statement affects people all over. When Mr. Lekhi said a hysteria had been created, the CJI asked him: “Who is creating hysteria? Who is the author of the

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