The Supreme Court on Wednesday clubbed the first information reports filed against suspended Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her disparaging remarks about Prophet Muhammad, Bar and Bench reported.
A bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala ordered that the cases filed against Sharma be transferred to Delhi.
“We direct that all the FIRs be transferred and clubbed for the purpose of the investigation to Delhi Police,” the bench said, according to Live Law. “IFSO [Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations] of Delhi Police appears to be a specialised agency and it will be appreciated if the investigation is done by it.”
The court also extended the interim protection that it had granted to Sharma on July 19 till the completion of the investigation.
Sharma’s comments about the Prophet, made during a debate on the Times Now television channel on May 26, had led to a spate of violence and unrest across several parts of the country in June. India also faced a diplomatic outrage from a number of Gulf countries. Two men have been killed for supporting her.
Five first information reports have been filed against the suspended BJP leader in Maharashtra, two in West Bengal, and one each in Delhi and Telangana.
She had demanded that either the first information reports filed against her in various states should be quashed, or they be clubbed together and transferred to Delhi.
During Wednesday’s hearing, the court said that its order will also extend to any FIR or complaint that may be registered against Sharma in future in connection with her remarks.
The bench also granted Sharma the liberty to approach the Delhi High Court regarding her plea to quash the FIRs filed against her.
Senior advocate Menaka Guruswamy, appearing for the West Bengal government, said that Sharma should not be allowed to pick the jurisdiction in the case. She also pointed out that the first FIR against Sharma was filed in Mumbai, PTI reported.
“First FIR was in Maharashtra and the state where the maximum impact has been felt is West Bengal,” Guruswamy said, according to Live Law. “Delhi is not on the list. I don’t understand why my friend [Sharma’s counsel] is pushing for Delhi.”
She also urged the Supreme Court to form a Special Investigation Team to investigate the cases against Sharma.
“Consider the nature of the issue which has caused an impact on our democracy,” Guruswamy told the bench. “Some states are supporting the petitioner. Her statements have tainted the rule of law and vitiated the atmosphere.”
Justice Kant responded that the court was compelled to intervene due to the threats against Sharma, reported Live Law. He also turned down Guruswamy’s suggestion of constituting a Special Investigation Team, saying it would create undue pressure.
On July 19, Sharma was granted interim protection from arrest by the Supreme Court in the cases filed against her after she had contended that there was a genuine threat to her life.
Prior to this, on July 1, a bench headed by Justice Kant had come down heavily on Sharma, saying that she should have apologised to the country for her remarks.
The judges had also orally said that Sharma was single-handedly responsible for the tensions in the country and that being a spokesperson of a national political party does not give anyone the liberty to speak “such disturbing things”.
“These are not religious people at all, they make statements to provoke,” the judges had said, while asking Sharma to approach the High Courts.