High Court quashes FIR against Twitter CEO
The FIR was registered under Indian Penal Code sections pertaining to outraging religious feelings, defamation and public mischief.
The Rajasthan High Court on Tuesday quashed a first information report registered against Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and film critic Anna M.M. Vetticad in 2018 for posting a picture on social media in which Mr. Dorsey, accompanied by some journalists, was shown holding a banner stating “Smash Brahminical Patriarchy”.
Rajkumar Sharma, a resident of Jodhpur, had registered the FIR through a complaint filed in the court with the contention that the Twitter post had maligned the Brahmin community and hurt his religious sentiments. He claimed that Brahmins, who performed important rites and customs, were “highly respected” in society.
The High Court had in December 2018 stayed Mr. Dorsey’s arrest, but refused to quash the FIR. The FIR was registered under Indian Penal Code sections pertaining to outraging religious feelings, defamation and public mischief.
Justice Sandeep Mehta, at the High Court’s principal seat in Jodhpur, ruled that the impugned phrase had only challenged the sociological concepts of a particular section of the Brahmin community. “By no stretch of imagination can it be perceived that these words hurt the religious sentiments of any citizen nor can they be interpreted as creating a religion-based rift in any section of society,” the court said.
The court did find any offence made out against Mr. Dorsey and Ms. Vetticad and said that allowing investigation in the matter by the police was “absolutely uncalled for”. “The impugned FIR does not disclose necessary ingredients of any cognisable offence so as to warrant its registration and investigation in furtherance thereof.”
Mr. Dorsey and Ms. Vetticad had moved criminal miscellaneous petitions in the court seeking quashing of the FIR against them. Ms. Vetticad’s counsel told the court that she had unintentionally posted the picture and would tender an apology on her Twitter account to placate the sentiments of those who might have been offended.
The judge observed that the words in the poster had at best conveyed the feelings regarding a strong opposition to the Brahminical patriarchal system and the desire to denounce it. “Whether or not to follow or oppose the patriarchal system in the society is a matter of personal choice and cannot be thrust down anyone’s throat.”
Mr. Dorsey’s counsel had submitted in the court that his client did not intend to hurt the sentiments of anyone and that the photograph had been shot at a social event when an unknown woman had come and presented the poster to Mr. Dorsey.
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