Not entertaining her plea to club FIRs against her in different states with the one in Delhi over her remarks on the Prophet, the Supreme Court Friday came down heavily on suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, saying she has a “loose tongue” and is “single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country” including in Udaipur where a tailor was hacked to death this week for allegedly sharing her remarks.
Stating that Sharma should have “apologised to the nation”, the vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala pulled her up for approaching the Supreme Court directly.
“The petition smacks of her arrogance that magistrates of the country are too small for her.”
The bench was also critical of the Delhi Police response in the matter and asked, “What has Delhi Police done? Don’t make us open our mouth.”
“When you get an FIR registered against XYZ, he is arrested immediately… Nobody has dared to touch you,” Justice Surya Kant said.
Sharma’s petition was filed under the name N V Sharma and Senior Advocate Maninder Singh, who was representing her, said this was done because there was threat to her life.
At this, Justice Surya Kant said, “She has threat or she has become a security threat? The way she has ignited emotions across the country, this lady is single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country.”
Singh said Sharma had tendered a written apology, but Justice Surya Kant said “she was too late to withdraw” and it was done “conditionally saying sentiments hurt”.
“We saw the debate on how she was incited. But the way she said all this… and later says she is a lawyer… it is shameful… she should have gone to the TV and apologised to the nation.”
“What if she is the spokesperson of a party? She thinks she has back-up power and can make any statement without respect to the law of the land?” Justice Surya Kant said.
Sharma made remarks on the Prophet during a TV debate on the Gyanvapi mosque issue on May 27.
Justice Surya Kant asked why did the TV channel choose a sub judice topic. “What was the TV debate for? Only to fan an agenda? Why did they choose a sub judice topic?”
Told that her remarks were in response to a question, the judge said she should then have filed an FIR against the anchor.
Singh pointed out that there was no intention. “It was again and again said that the Shivling was just a fountain or a fawara. This was said by the debater on the other side and not the anchor… if this is the position, then every citizen will have no right to speak.”
Referring to cases including the one against journalist Arnab Goswami, Singh said the settled law is that there cannot be multiple FIRs for the same offence.
He said, “What Your Lordships have laid down is for every citizen.”
At this, Justice Surya Kant said, “It’s not every citizen. Here also, some special treatment has been given to a journalist.”
He said Sharma should approach the High Court of the place where the first FIR was filed and seek relief.
“The case of a journalist, who within his legitimate… rights of expressing opinion on a particular issue, is on a different pedestal as compared to a citizen or spokesperson who goes to a channel and starts lambasting others, makes irresponsible statements without even thinking of the ramifications and serious consequences of how serious,” he said.
Singh said, “As a citizen having rights, the fact remains that it is only one incident, and the SC” has laid down that in case of one incident, there can be no second FIR. He said the prayer was to club the other FIRs with the one in Delhi.
“What has been done in that FIR? We are asking you repeatedly,” Justice Surya Kant said.
When Singh said “we have joined the investigation,” the judge said, “Naturally, there must be a red carpet for you. This is how you joined.”
Singh said, “I should not be treated unequally.”
Eventually, the bench declined to provide any relief to Sharma. Justice Surya Kant told her counsel, “No, Mr Singh, when the conscience of the court is not satisfied, we must mould the law accordingly.”
On a request by Singh, the bench allowed the petition to be withdrawn with liberty to avail alternate remedies.