Indian democracy has progressed so much that tolerance to dissent and satirical comments has become its hallmark: Bombay High Court

The Bombay High Court, Nagpur Bench has quashed an First Information Report (FIR) lodged against the person who hacked the Facebook page of MLA Ravi Rana and posted abusive comments against his political opponents.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Sunil Shukre and Justice MW Chandwani said Indian democracy has progressed so much that tolerance to fair criticism, dissent and satirical comments has become its hallmark.

The Bench in its order said social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Telegram, have become powerful tools for communication.

It further said that social media has become one of the important pillars on which democracy stands.

The Bench was hearing a plea by a 39-year-old man to quash the FIR lodged against him under Section 153-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for posting abusive content after hacking the social media page of a leader.

The bench said that this is the case only so long as it is not misused by posting remarks that constitute an offence or which do not fall within the reasonable restrictions on free speech under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.

The prosecution clearly said that the accused had a malafide intention to create disharmony among various groups by using abusive language.

The accused on the other hand said that the section imposed (Section 153-A) is attracted only when there is an intention to create disharmony between two groups based on religion, race, caste etc.

The Court said that offence under Section 153-A cannot be made out in the case yet the man does not have the licence to revile state government officials.