The Bombay High Court observed on Monday, 27 February, that the law cannot be employed as a tool of oppression and FIRs cannot be used to harrass people by preventing them from expressing dissent.
Why did the court say this? The court said this while quashing cases against a Congress worker who had put up a social media post critical of BJP leader and Minister Chandrakant Patil.
Additionally, a bench of Justices Revati Mohite Dere and PK Chavan imposed costs of ₹25,000 on the Maharashtra government for the "unjustified arrest" of the petitioner Sandeep Kudale.
"The right to express one’s views is a protected and cherished right in our democracy and cannot be taken away by imposition of Section 153A of the IPC and by arresting a person as done in the present case. Section 153A cannot be resorted to silence people from expressing their views/opinions/dissent, so long as Article 19(2) (reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech) is not violated.”-Bombay High Court
Note: Section 153 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence.
The cases against the Congress Worker: Kudale had uploaded a video-clip on social media where he reportedly made derogatory comments against Patil.
Following this, two FIRs were registered against the Congress worker who was booked under IPC Section 153A.
Kudale had claimed that he made the video to criticise Patil's defaming remarks against BR Ambedkar, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil.
However, after examining the videos uploaded, the Court held that that prima facie perusal of the content showed no offence made out against Kudale and that there was no unlawful assembly and rioting.
(With inputs from Bar and Bench)