By LE Desk
Mumbai, May 6: The Bombay High Court has quashed a First Information Report (FIR) registered against a Twitter user, Sunaina Holey by the Mumbai Police cyber cell for her tweet allegedly promoting enmity between two communities.
The Court said that the tweet did not name any communities, and it has to be judged from the perspective of a prudent man, India Today reported.
The Bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice MS Karnik said, “Assuming that the said tweet is an extreme view expressed in retaliation to the view expressed by one of the members of the crowd who was blaming the Prime Minister of India for the outbreak of the pandemic, the said Tweet has still to be judged from the standpoint of what the reaction of a strong-minded, reasonable or a prudent person would be.
“It is material to note that reading of the contents of the tweet would reveal that neither any community nor any religion is named. Nothing substantial has been brought on record by the prosecution to hold that because of the said tweet, hatred or enmity was created in between two communities. If the test of a strong or a prudent person judging the contents of the said tweet is applied, by no stretch of imagination it can be said that the tweet created hatred or enmity between the two groups of communities.”
The bench further said, “Upon reading the contents of the said tweet, it is difficult to arrive at the conclusion that the Petitioner has mens rea (intention of wrongdoing) to commit an alleged offence under section 153A of the IPC.”
Section 153 A states, “Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.”
The Court said that while it appreciates the efforts of police in ensuring that the situation does not go out of hand, the contents of the FIR do not constitute an offence. “After careful and in-depth consideration, we deem it fit to quash FIR,” the Court, therefore, ordered.
Holey had approached the court with a plea to quash the FIR registered against her after she tweeted a video. The court noted that she had not made the video. It was only posted with a comment.
Holey’s lawyer Abhinav Chadrachud had argued that the fundamental right to speech of a citizen could not be curtailed and that Holey was merely expressing her opinion and criticising the policy of the government, India Today said.
Extending this argument, the Bench expressed hope that individuals occupying important positions of power must learn to tolerate criticism.