The lawyer for Navi Mumbai resident Sunaina Holey (38), booked for allegedly making offensive remarks on social media against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aaditya Thackeray in July this year, referring to the Supreme Court ruling, submitted that she is not an influential person and therefore her posts should be disregarded and cannot be treated like those made by politicians, media persons or those in public life.
A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice M S Karnik was hearing Holey’s plea that sought interim protection from arrest and quashing of all FIRs and charges levelled against her.
The Mumbai and Palghar police have filed three FIRs against Holey, after several persons, including Yuva Sena member Rohan Chavan, filed police complaints against her. She was booked under sections 505 (statements conducive to public mischief) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) of the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Information Technology Act.
Advocate Abhinav Chandrachud for Holey referred to the Supreme Court judgment in Amish Devgan case wherein it was observed that cognizance of statements made by influential people was needed to be taken. “The public figures have to observe a higher amount of responsibility before making statements. Holey is not a public figure and therefore her statements, if incorrect, can be rectified by concerned authority and she need not be arrested,” he argued.
Chanrachud said that the social media posts were not against any community and also did not create any law and order situation, therefore, FIR against her was misconceived.
However, senior counsel Manoj Mohite, representing state government opposed the plea and said that Holey followed the ruling party in Centre on Twitter and was a professional tweeter having thousands of followers and therefore the charges against her were justified.
The HC, last week, had sought to know what stand democratic countries across the world have taken regarding allegedly offensive posts or statements found on social media platforms for academic purpose.
While responding to a query by the bench, Chandrachud referred to the judgment by the US Supreme Court in Whitney Vs California and said, “The US Supreme Court had held that bad speech could be reformed by more speech and not by silencing it.” He further said that the judgment had differentiated between advocating and inciting. Due to paucity of time, the bench adjourned hearing on the case and posted it to Tuesday.