Read order: Tarun Jain vs. State of UP & Anr.
Prayagraj, July 23, 2021: The Allahabad High Court recently quashed an FIR registered against a person for violation of Section 144 of CrPC after he had tweeted about breach of Covid-19 protocols in his society.
While quashing the FIR, the bench of Justice JJ Munir said the prosecution failed to disclose a cognizable case against the applicant and termed it to be a “reckless abuse of the process of court”.
The application under section 482 CrPC was moved by one Tarun Jain against whom an FIR was lodged for tweeting about breach of Covid-19 protocols in his society. The FIR was registered against him on the ground that his tweet had spread a rumour and violated the prohibitory order under section 144.
His tweet said that maid servants and courier boys were entering the society, where Jain resides, without sanitizing themselves and that the maintenance staff had not provided sanitizers to enable persons entering the society to sanitize themselves.
The High Court noted that a mindful tweet by a resident of a society about breach of Covid-19 norms can’t constitute a violation of IPC or CrPC.
The court cautioned the police authorities against registering such reports against respectable citizens, and asked the trial court not to permit frivolous cases to survive, burdening its already overloaded docket resulting in utterly uncalled harassment of a respectable citizen.
Holding that the ingredients of Section 182 of the Indian Penal Code are prima facie not disclosed, the High Court observed that what the applicant did was a tweet, which was perhaps a matter of concern for other residents of the society, rather than the Sub-Inspector who lodged the FIR in this case.
“A perusal of Section 182 of the Penal Code shows that a person to be liable has to be credited with the act of giving any information to a public servant, which he knows or believes to be false. Here, the applicant never gave any information to the Police or any public servant,” found the High Court.
Adding that construing such tweet as one within the mischief of Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code would be unacceptable violence to the Statute, the Court said that it is not even remotely shown as to how the applicant, by his tweet, violated the prohibitory orders promulgated in the district, except for a vague remark that he spread a rumour, added the Bench.
Criticizing the act of lodging of FIR, Justice Munir stated that unfair and biased investigation is no investigation in the eyes of law, and vitiates the resultant charge-sheet as sham, as held by the Apex Court in Babubhai v. State of Gujarat & Others.
Resultantly, the High Court quashed the criminal proceedings initiated against the applicant.