The Bombay High Court on Friday said freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 of the Constitution of India was not an absolute right and refused to grant interim protection from arrest to a woman booked by the Mumbai and Palghar police for alleged offensive remarks against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and minister Aaditya Thackeray in July this year.
“Perhaps citizens are under the impression that freedom of speech and expression is an absolute right, without any restrictions,” a bench led by Justice S S Shinde said. The bench was hearing a criminal writ plea by one Sunaina Holey, filed through advocate Abhinav Chandrachud, seeking to quash and set aside three FIRs filed against her. Holey had also sought interim protection from arrest, pending hearing in the case.
The three FIRs were registered against Holey after several persons, including Yuva Sena member Rohan Chavan, filed complaints against her for posting offensive and defamatory comments against the CM and his son on Twitter. Holey was booked under sections 505 (punishment for statements conducting public mischief) and 153 (A) (punishment for promoting enmity between different religious groups) of the Indian Penal Code and other provisions of IT Act.
On Friday, the court accepted the state government’s oral assurance that the woman will not be arrested in the case at least for two weeks if she cooperated with the probe and attended Azad Maidan police station in Mumbai and Tulinj police station in Palghar district for questioning.
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