In a major setback for journalist Amish Devgan, the Supreme Court has refused to quash FIRs against him in connection with his comment on Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti during a TV debate.
A division Bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna, however, gave him interim protection from arrest & combined all FIRs to one place in Ajmer.
The Court had on September 25, reserved its order in the plea challenging the FIRs registered against News anchor Amish Devgan on his remarks on Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.
Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra, who appeared on behalf of the anchor, had cited a Constitution bench judgement stating that the section 153B of IPC only punishes when there is a deliberate and calculated intent to disrupt the public order and create religious disharmony. He said that in the case of Manzar Syed Khan it was noted that the test of quashing is if the speech is of aggravated form and with the intent of disrupting public order.
Luthra had submitted that the Registration of FIR all over India is interesting but a mala fide exercise as multiplicity of FIRs will make it impossible for an individual to work as a journalist.
He had cited the judgement in TT Antony v. State to discuss if multiple FIRs can be filed on the same set of facts. The case of TT Antony was followed in the Babu Bhai case and the test is to see whether it is the same incident, where the Court has to check if the occurrence is of same incident. If the answer is yes, then the second FIR is liable to be quashed and in the present case, every FIR relates to the same incident of June 15.
Talking about the FIRs filed in Ajmer, he had stated that it needs to be quashed because that man has not seen the show and Ajmer does not have jurisdiction.
Amish Devgan had made the comment during a debate on a PIL about the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act on his show ‘Aar Par’. As per reports he had called Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, also known as Khwaja Gareeb Nawaz, an attacker and a lootera.
The plea filed by Amish Devgn through Advocate Vivek Jain seeks quashing of the FIRs which have been registered against him under the following sections of the Indian Penal Code:
- Section 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts,ntended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs),
- Section 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony),
- Section 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief), and
- Section 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention)
On June 17, the News Anchor had apologized for hurting the religious sentiments of the Muslims. He wrote
In 1 of my debates, I inadvertently referred to ‘Khilji’ as Chishti. I sincerely apologise for this grave error and the anguish it may have caused to followers of the Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti, whom I revere. I have in the past sought blessings at his dargah. I regret this error.