The Bombay High Court on Thursday questioned a social activist how he could, through a public interest litigation (PIL) petition, seek impeachment of Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari over his remarks on Savitribai Phule and Chhatrapati Shivaji. The court also said it could not restrain the governor from speaking about historical figures.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Abhay Ahuja was hearing a petition filed by Deepak Dilip Jagdev, who said that Koshyari had made “derogatory” remarks on Chhatrapati Shivaji, Dr B R Ambedkar, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule, because of which “all of Maharashtra is burning as political leaders and organisations are holding protests”. He thus sought impeachment proceedings to be initiated to remove Koshyari as governor.
“How is this a public interest litigation? And can we restrain the governor?” Chief Justice Datta asked.
Jagdev, through advocate Nitin Satpute, said the petitioner was aggrieved by the “mocking” and “insulting” remarks made against the “most loved names in Maharashtra” and claimed that Koshyari was taking undue advantage of the right to freedom of speech provided under the Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution, “which is not absolute”, and spreading hatred in the society.
Jagdev claimed that the governor could not be immune from prosecution under Indian Penal Code sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 153A (promoting enmity between groups on grounds of religion, etc), and wanted Koshyari be booked on the charges.
Jagdev requested the court to constitute a bench of five judges to decide whether action could be taken against Koshyari, and sought a declaration that the governor will not be protected in his personal capacity from offences under the IPC.
The bench said it would peruse the petition and decide on hearing it.