The Allahabad High Court dismissed an application saying that the internet and social media has become important tool through which individuals can exercise their right to freedom of expression but the right to freedom of expression comes with its set of special responsibilities and duties. It does not confer upon citizens the right to speak without responsibility nor does it grant an unfettered licence for every possible use of language.
A single-judge bench of Justice Shekhar Kumar Yadav passed this order while hearing an application under CrPC Section 482 filed by Nandini Sachan.
The application sought quashing the cognizance order dated 03.08.2022 passed by the Judicial Magistrate as well as chargesheet dated 24.7.2022 as well as entire proceedings of criminal case under Section 67 of Information Technology (Amendment) Act, Police Station Nawabad, District Jhansi pending in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jhansi.
Further prayer has been made to stay further proceedings of the case.
The facts of the case are that the impugned FIR has been lodged by the informant on 31.5.2022 against the applicant and unknown persons alleging that 1 to 2 months ago, some unknown persons with different mobile numbers and IDs, obtained photo of the informant from social media and tampered with the photo and added abusive words, made it viral on internet for which the informant has also given an application before cyber police.
The counsel for the applicant submitted the applicant has been falsely implicated just to pressure and harass the applicant, in fact, no such incident has taken place.
The real fact is that the son of opposite party no 2, namely, Ankit Nagpal and applicant were doing training in 2021 at HDFC Bank at Bangalore and during the training period, the son of opposite party no 2 proposed to the applicant and when the applicant denied the same, the opposite party no 2 tried to harass and obstruct her marriage.
It is further alleged that after completing the training, the victim returned back to her home but the son of opposite party no 2 continuously called the applicant and also sent vulgar messages on social media platform, thereafter, the applicant lodged the FIR on 11.02.2022 bearing case under Sections 354-ka, 354 gha, 506 IPC against the son of opposite party no 2 in which after instigation chargesheet has been submitted against the son of opposite party no 2 on 28.3.2022.
Further submission is that the FIR is a counterblast to the FIR lodged by the applicant against the son of opposite party no 2.
After investigation, the investigating officer has submitted a chargesheet against the applicant under Section 67 of Information Technology (Amendment) Act in illegal and arbitrary manner and the Magistrate took cognizance on a printed proforma vide its order dated 03.03.2022 and summoned the applicant to face trial.
Further submission is that in the catena of judgments of the Court, it has held that the summoning order on printed proforma without application of judicial mind could not be passed. No ingredients of Section 67 of IT Act are existing under the facts and circumstances case, therefore, no offence is made out against the applicant but the court below has utterly failed to consider as no prima facie case is made out against the applicant.
Per contra, supporting the impugned cognizance order, AGA as well as counsel for opposite party no 2 vehemently opposed the contention raised by counsel for the applicant and have submitted that during investigation, the investigating officer found that some person including the applicant, who is also a lady, is involved in the aforesaid illegal activities, therefore, submitted charge sheet against the applicant after recording statement under Section 161 CrPC of the witnesses.
These witnesses have clearly alleged in their statements that the applicant as well as other accused persons are involved in the offence in question. They have further stated that since the offence is below 7 years, the police have no right to arrest the applicant in compliance with Sections 41 and Section 41-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure. However, it is prayed that the application of the applicant may be dismissed, as the applicant has committed a serious crime.
The Court is of the view that it is beyond the shadow of doubt that social media is a global platform for exchange of thoughts, opinions and ideas. The internet and social media has become an important tool through which individuals can exercise their right to freedom of expression but the right to freedom of expression comes with its own set of special responsibilities and duties. It does not confer upon the citizens the right to speak without responsibility nor does it grant unfettered licence for every possible use of language.
As per statement of witnesses, namely, Shyam Sunder Nagpal, husband of opposite party no 1, Suneel Kathuriya, brother of opposite party no 2 and also independent witness, namely, Govind Srivastava, there is clear cut allegation against the applicant. They have fully supported the prosecution story. It is an admitted fact that the both parties i.e applicant and son of opposite party no 2 are known to each other and both have worked in the same office during training at Bangalore, the Court noted.
“Upon perusal of FIR and the allegations made therein as well as material against the applicant, as per prosecution case, the cognizable offence against the applicant is made out. Perusal of the chargesheet submitted against the applicant shows that after investigation, the investigating officer has submitted a chargesheet after collecting cogent and reliable evidence against the applicant and thereafter the Magistrate has rightly summoned the applicant to face trial.
Having considered the submissions made on behalf of the parties and perused the order impugned as well as material brought on record and also considering the above mentioned provisions of Section 67 Information Technology Act, it is clearly established that the offence under Section 67 IT Act is attracted in the case, therefore, I am of the view that no ground for quashing the proceedings of aforesaid case is made out which may call for any interference by this Court in exercise of its inherent power under Section 482 CrPC as the same do not suffer from any illegality or infirmity,” the Court further observed while dismissing the application.