The Bombay High Court on Monday pulled up the Maharashtra government over the arrest of a 21-year-old student for alleged defamatory posts against NCP president Sharad Pawar and asked if the government would take cognizance of every tweet it deems offensive.
The HC observed that even Mr. Pawar, a former Union Minister and veteran politician, would not like that the student be kept in jail.
A division bench headed by Justice S.S. Shinde directed the public prosecutor to take instructions from the state home department and let it know if they are willing to make a statement of no objection to the release of the pharmacy student.
The court was hearing a petition filed by the student, Nikhil Bhamre, challenging the cases lodged against him over the posts and seeking immediate release.
The court, after perusing the tweets posted by Mr. Bhamre on social media platform Twitter, noted that they do not name anyone.
“Nobody is named...and you (government) keep someone in prison for a month. How is this a basis of everything?” Justice Shinde said.
“There are 100s and 1000s of tweets posted everyday. Will you take cognizance of each and every tweet? We do not want FIRs like these. Some student is kept in custody like this…” the court said.
Justice Shinde further said booking a person in such a case was possibly more damaging to the reputation of Mr. Pawar (than the posts themselves).
“If you start taking actions like this, then you end up damaging the name of the person (Mr. Pawar) who has received the second highest civilian award (Padma Vibhushan). Even the towering personality (Mr. Pawar) will not like that such a student be kept in jail. We do not want the towering personality's reputation to go down," the judge noted.
The court, while posting the matter for further hearing on June 16, directed the prosecutor to take instructions from the Home Department and make a statement of no objection for releasing Mr. Bhamre from custody.
“In our humble opinion, grace of the State will be saved if you come and make this statement," the bench added.