Derogatory tweets against CM: man gets interim protection from arrest

The Bombay High Court on Thursday granted interim protection from arrest to a man booked for derogatory tweets against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son and Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray.

A Division Bench of Justices S.S. Shinde and M.S. Karnik was hearing a petition filed by a Nagpur resident, Sameet Thakkar, seeking to quash an FIR registered against him by the V.P. Marg police charging him for obscenity and slander over his tweets.

Advocate Abhinav Chandrachud, appearing for Mr. Thakkar, said obscenity under Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code means only sexual obscenity or pornography. “Mere abusive language does not amount to obscenity. There are great works of literature that have abusive language within them,” he said.

The court said, “We ignore the harsh criticism that is often levelled against us, but what if others who are in power are not able to ignore/are more sensitive.”

Mr. Chandrachud said, “Those who occupy positions of power must develop a thick skin.”

The Bench then said, “What about the dignity of the post of Chief Minister? That must be maintained.”

Mr. Chanrachud argued, “The office of Chief Minister is such a high post. Its dignity cannot be reduced by a person on the street or on Twitter who abuses the Chief Minister.”

The court directed the assistant public prosecutor not to arrest the accused as Section 41A (notice of appearance before police officer) of the Code of Criminal Procedure had been invoked, and 41A doesn’t contemplate arrest.

The court also said, “If the police wish to add any cognisable offences (the FIR invoked only bailable offences), they should not arrest the accused until the next date.”

The court also directed Mr. Thakkar to be present before the investigating officer concerned on October 5 so that his statement could be recorded, and adjourned the matter to be heard on October 8.

In another matter, the Bench was hearing a petition filed by one Sunaina Holey who had been charged for tweeting against the CM and his son. The court was informed that the investigating officer at the Azad Maidan police station where Ms. Holey was expected to go to record her statement had contracted COVID 19 and that a fresh notice would be issued for her.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 8:51:28 PM |

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