Bombay HC quashes FIRs against Congress worker for social media post against BJP’s Chandrakant Patil
The court also told the state government to pay Rs 25,000 to the Congress worker, Sandeep Kudale, for his ‘unjustified arrest’.
The Bombay High Court on Monday quashed two cases filed against a Congress worker named Sandeep Kudale, who had shared a post on social media against Bharatiya Janata Party leader Chandrakant Patil, reported Bar and Bench.
A bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and Prithviraj K Chavan told the state government to pay Rs 25,000 to Kudale for his “unjustified arrest”. The court directed that the cost be recovered from the salaries of police officers responsible for the registration of the first information reports, reported The Indian Express.
The political activist had shared the social media post on December 10 after a man had thrown ink at the Maharashtra minister in the Chinchwad city. The BJP leader was attacked with ink a day after Patil had said that social reformers BR Ambedkar and Jyotirao Phule did not seek government grants for educational institutions and that they “begged” people for funds to start schools and colleges.
A day after Kudale had shared the social media post, the police booked him under sections 153A(1)(a) and 153A(1)(b) of the Indian Penal Code (promoting enmity between different groups). The FIR had alleged that Kudale shot a video outside Patil’s house and the post he shared led to an atmosphere of contempt against the BJP leader, reported Live Law.
However, the High Court held that the right to express one’s views is a protected right in a democracy, which cannot be taken away by filing a case under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code.
“Law cannot be used as a tool or as an instrument of oppression, by registering FIRs, to harass people by preventing/intimidating them, from expressing their views/opinions/dissent, which the Constitution of India, guarantees to them,” the bench said.
The bench also said that Kudale’s video could not be seen as an attempt to create disorder or incite violence. “Merely because the petitioner’s comments hurt the complainant’s sensibilities, was not a ground for the police to register the FIRs, much less arrest him,” the court held.