Mumbai (ILNS): The Bombay High Court has granted relief from arrest to Sameet Thakkar, charged of tweeting abusive content against the Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
The division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice M S Karnik was hearing a petition filed by Thakkar, seeking directions to quash and set aside an FIR filed against him at V P Marg police station over his tweets against the Chief Minister and his son and minister Aaditya Thackeray.
Advocates Abhinav Chandrachud, on behalf the Petitioner, argued that it was the fundamental right of a citizen to criticize a public office.
Obscenity under section 292 of the IPC meant only sexual obscenity or pornography and that mere abusive language did not amount to obscenity, the cousel said, citing Justice VR Krishna Iyer’s remark that courts should ignore trifling and venial offenses.
The counsel further argued that the complaint had been filed by a private person and not the Chief Minister who was defamed for the case against Thakkar under Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC.
Additional Public Prosecutor JP Yagnik appeared for the state and submitted that the police has issued a notice to Thakkar under section 41-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), but he was yet to appear before them to record his statement.
After considering the submission from both the parties, the bench said: “The people holding public offices do not uphold the dignity of the office. The citizens uphold the dignity of the office.”
The Court said: “The rights of your client cannot violate someone else’s constitutional rights. Everybody knows these rights are not absolute… If criticism is fair, then the person who occupies public office should have the capacity to accept it. But criticism can’t be unfair and abusive.”
The Court directed Sameet Thakkar to appear before the police on October 5 between 11 am and 12 noon to record his statement under Section 161 of the CrPC.
Further, the court directed the Additional Public Prosecutor not to arrest Thakkar as the notice was issued under section 41-A of the CrPC that does not contemplate arrest.
The case is fixed on October 8, for further hearing.