The Bombay High Court on Tuesday sought to know what stand democracies across the world take about offensive tweets or posts on social media, PTI reported.
The High Court was hearing the final arguments on a plea filed by Mumbai resident Sunaina Holey, who was booked for allegedly posting offensive tweets against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son and state minister Aaditya Thackeray. Holey has sought quashing of the first information report against her.
Advocate Abhinav Chandrachud, counsel for Holey, argued that the facts in the FIR against her client did not reveal any offence. She had only posted a video and was not its author or creator, Chandrachud said.
Citing the Bilal Kaloo’s case where the Supreme Court had held that Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc) of the Indian Penal Code requires that the accused must refer to two communities, the advocate said that Holey has not even referred to any one community, Live Law reported.
Chandrachud also referred to a judgement passed by the Bombay High Court in connection with editorials written in Saamana, the mouthpiece of the Shiv Sena, following the demolition of Babri Mosque in Ayodhya and Hindu-Muslim riots in Mumbai. The editorials had used extreme words such as “crush the traitors”, the counsel said.
“The Bombay High Court held that the Saamana had not referred to all Muslims as traitors but only anti-national Muslims as traitors,” Chandrachud pointed out. “I ask the court to compare what the Saamana had written with what the petitioner had said. The petitioners’ words, by comparison, were innocuous.”
Maharashtra government’s counsel senior advocate Manoj Mohite told the High Court that an officer of the Mumbai Police’s social media department found “something fishy” in Holey’s tweets. Hence, an FIR was registered against her, he said.
The bench then sought to view again the video posted by Holey on Twitter. Mohite said the police had registered three more FIRs at the gathering of thousands outside the Bandara railway station on rumours that trains would start from Mumbai amid the peak of countrywide lockdown.
Holey’s counsel then submitted that her client only posted a video on her Twitter account that consisted of a certain community but she did not say anything about the particular community.
The High Court said that the advocates must throw some light on the stand taken by other democracies, as it might be useful for academic purposes too in the future. “In the entire world, how many democratic countries are there like India? the court asked. “In those countries, what is the stand taken on such tweets, WhatsApp messages or any criticism?”
It posted the matter for hearing on December 14.