The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has reserved its order on a plea by journalist and author Gowhar Geelani challenging imposition of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention ACT (UAPA) against him. The court heard the matter for almost an hour through video conferencing and the order likely to come by the evening.
The case came up for hearing before Justice Ali Mohammad Magray.
In his petition, Salih Peerzada, the counsel for Geelani, has questioned the case against his client and the jurisdiction of the Cyber Police Station, seeking interim protection from arrest and quashing of the FIR. “The respondent has no jurisdiction to investigate the offences beyond the purview of the Information Technology Act, 2000,” the petitioner argued. “There is no genesis or manner of the commissions of alleged offences mentioned in the FIR, as such, the initiation of persecution being in abuse of process of law can’t be allowed to sustain. The registration of impugned FIR emanates from misuse of police powers, as such liable to be quashed.”
The petitioner has challenged the FIR and investigation on the grounds that “the contents of the FIR do not constitute the offence alleged”. “The anatomy of FIR shows a skeletal formation without the particulars about the date, period or place of offence as required by the format of the FIR. Such visible omissions are deliberate and originate as a result of police padding which create incurable infirmity in the initiation of prosecution,” the petition has argued.
Express Editorial: Unfreedom of press
In his petition, the counsel has argued that mere expression of opinion of political or apolitical on a public forum doesn’t ipso facto constitute an offence.
While police is silent about the charges invoked against Geelani, the petition says he has been booked under Section 13 of the UAPA and Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Geelani said all the charges against him are baseless. “I have always condemned all forms of violence through social media,” Geelani said. In fact, Geelani was one of the first valley journalists to voice his opinion about young boys joining militants and being killed in police encounter within a few days. “Kashmir is fast losing its precious human resource, the young boys in teens. And we can’t afford to normalize this colossal human tragedy. Mourning can’t be our permanent politics. Funerals of our young can’t be our political events. This tragedy is the outcome of the absence of meaningful sincere and clean politics,” he had tweeted last year.
On Thursday, the Press Council of India, while reacting to an attack on TV journalist Arnab Goswami, had said: “Every citizen of this country including a journalist has the right to express their opinion which may not be palatable to many but this doesn’t give anybody the authority to strangulate such voice”. Goswami’s petition is coming up for hearing in the Supreme Court today.
The J-K Police have booked Geelani and a freelance photojournalist under stringent anti terror laws for their social media posts. The police have termed their posts as “seditious, incendiary and incriminating”. The police have also registered an FIR in a story published by The Hindu saying it could incite violence.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines