The Bombay High Court, while hearing a petition on Monday to block actor Kangana Ranaut’s Twitter account, noted that she had the right to express her thoughts on the social media platform, India Today reported.
The petition was filed by Mumbai-based lawyer Ali Kaashif Khan Deshmukh. He alleged that Ranaut’s tweets hurt his religious sentiments and created animosity between different communities.
A bench comprising Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik asked the petitioner to explain how Ranaut’s tweets hurt him personally. “Any individual can have this [Twitter] account,” Shinde said. “She [Ranaut] also has the fundamental right to have an account to express her thoughts. So, you have to show how your fundamental rights are breached.”
The judge added: “Unless the case comes under the reasonable restrictions, can we accede to your request? If you have to judge, what will you do?”
Deshmukh told the court that his petition mentioned multiple instances where Ranaut hurt his feelings. “Free speech and hate speech are different,” he said. “There are many cases filed in various courts against her. There is a personal mental injury that I have suffered through her tweets.”
Additional Public Prosecutor JP Yagnik said that the petition was vague and sought its dismissal, the Hindustan Times reported. “This petition either needs to be converted into a PIL [public interest litigation] or else so many people will start coming to court stating that they are hurt,” he told the court. “People will read newspapers and start coming to court. Constitutional right and constitutional remedy are different.”
The court, however, said that it was in no hurry to dismiss Deshmukh’s petition. “Take your time,” the court told Deshmukh. “We don’t want to discourage a young lawyer like you. Go through your points and make fresh arguments. On the next date, we will bring an end to this.” The court will continue hearing the case on January 7.
Deshmukh had also filed a complaint against Ranaut in October. He accused Ranaut of sedition and causing disharmony between two religious groups through her tweets. In his complaint before the Andheri Magistrate Court, the lawyer had said that the actor had “no respect for varied communities of India, law of the land and authorised government bodies”.
In April, Twitter had suspended the account of Ranaut’s sister Rangoli Chandel, who also works as the actor’s manager, for posts that amounted to hate speech.