The Supreme Court on Tuesday quashed a first information report registered by the Madhya Pradesh Police in connection with a book in the library of a government-run college in Indore that Hindutva organisations claimed was “Hinduphobic” and “anti-national”, Live Law reported.

A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta was hearing a special leave petition by Inamur Rahman, the former principal of the Government New Law College, challenging an April 30 order of the Madhya Pradesh High Court that refused to stay the first information report filed against him.

On April 30, the Madhya Pradesh High Court rejected Rahman’s petition seeking to put on hold the police investigation against him till it decided on his petition to quash the first information report, The Print reported. The High Court had said that the former principal was already on anticipatory bail and adjourned the matter.

The state government has also filed a caveat, or an application seeking to be heard before any order was passed, in the case.

During the hearing on Tuesday, the Supreme Court asked why the state government was interested in filing a caveat. “Clearly, it seems to be a case of persecution,” the bench said. “Somebody is interested in troubling him [Rahman].”

The bench said the Madhya Pradesh High Court had refused to grant interim relief to Rahman as he had received anticipatory bail.

The bench said that the High Court had failed to prevent the abuse of the law.

It also noted that the state government had chosen to file a caveat. “Normally in such matters, we would have granted notice and stayed the FIR [first information report],” said the bench. “However, since the state has chosen to file a caveat and appear through the learned Additional Advocate General, we are inclined to grant leave in the matter.”

The order also said that the first information report was nothing but an “absurdity”. “The FIR taken on its face value does not disclose the ingredients of any of the offences,” it said.

It added: “This is a fit case where the court would exercise its jurisdiction under Article 142 and close the proceedings to prevent abuse of law and miscarriage of justice.”

Article 142 of the Constitution empowers the Supreme Court to pass any decree or order necessary for doing complete justice in any case or matter pending before it.

In December 2022, Rahman was allegedly forced to resign as the principal of the college after a controversy erupted over the book titled Collective Violence and Criminal Justice System. The book, written by Farhat Khan, was in the college library.

Hours after resigning, the Madhya Pradesh Police filed a case against him and three others on charges of promoting enmity and hurting religious feelings.

Members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad had alleged that Khan’s book contained objectionable content about Hindus and Hindutva outfits such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal.

The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad is the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

They also claimed that the book talked about the emergence of “Hindu communalism as a destructive ideology”.

Subsequently, the Supreme Court granted Rahman interim protection from his arrest after the Madhya Pradesh High Court dismissed his application seeking interim anticipatory bail. He was eventually granted anticipatory bail by the High Court.