Calcutta HC directs police to return to doctor mobile phone seized over Facebook posts

He had put up several messages about ‘deficient’ protective gear supplied by the government

April 02, 2020 01:20 pm | Updated 01:20 pm IST - Kolkata

A view of a corridor of Calcutta High Court. File

A view of a corridor of Calcutta High Court. File

Observing that the freedom of speech and expression granted under Article 19 of the Constitution had to be scrupulously upheld by the State, the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday directed the West Bengal police to return the mobile phone and SIM card of a doctor, which were allegedly seized over a Facebook post.

“If an expression of opinion brings the government into disrepute, it cannot defend this allegation by intimidation of the person expressing the opinion by subjecting him to prolonged interrogation, threatening arrest seizing his mobile phone and SIM card and so on,” the order by Justice I.P. Mukherjee said.

The petitioner, a doctor who has specialised in oncology, had moved court, alleging harassment by Mahesthala Police Station in connection with an FIR filed against him on March 29. The doctor had made several posts on Facebook over the allegedly deficient protective gear supplied by the government to its doctors attending to COVID‐19 virus -affected patients in its hospitals.

Justice Mukherjee stated that he had gone through the posts. “I notice that there is a reply to the Tweet made by the writ petitioner by the Department of Health and Family Welfare, thanking the writ petitioner for highlighting the matter,” the order said.

While the court directed that for the time being, the writ petitioner (the doctor) was restrained from making any posting in his Facebook concerning the above issue, Justice Mukherjee also directed that “there shall be no further interrogation of the writ petitioner without the leave of a proper court”.

The High Court allowed the police that it “may start a criminal case against the writ petitioner without arresting him, if at all the evidence prima facie discloses an offence”.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.