The Rajasthan High Court Tuesday quashed the FIR against Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey for holding a placard in 2018 which stated ‘Smash Brahmanical Patriarchy’.
In a 2018 tweet, journalist Anna MM Vetticad had shared a photograph of Dorsey and others, where he had held the said placard during his visit to India. Following the tweet, an FIR was filed against Jack, Vetticad and others at Basni police station in Jodhpur. The two had filed separate petitions with the High Court requesting that the FIR be quashed.
Clubbing their petitions, a bench of Justice Sandeep Mehta said: “The phrase which has been castigated as offending in the FIR, may be construed as laying a challenge to the sociological concepts of a particular section/gender of the Brahmin community, but by no stretch of imagination can it be perceived that these words can even remotely be considered as hurting the religious sentiments of any citizen of India nor the same can be interpreted as creating a religion based rift in any section of society.”
“The words in the poster at best convey the feelings of the concerned person regarding being strongly opposed to the Brahminical Patriarchal system and desirous of denouncing the same. Whether or not to follow or oppose the patriarchal system in the society is a matter of personal choice and cannot be thrust down anyone’s throat,” Justice Mehta said, while quashing the FIR.
Advocates Mahesh Jethmalani and Nishant Bora who represented Jack and Vetticad, respectively, had contended that a social event was organised in which the petitioners were present, and where “an unknown lady came and handed over the allegedly offending placard to the petitioner Mr Jack Dorsey. The moment was captured in the questioned photograph and was casually posted by the petitioner Ms Anna M M Vetticad on her Twitter account without having any intention to hurt the sentiments, religious or otherwise, of any section of the society.”
They had contended that by mere publication of these words, “it cannot be accepted that religious sentiments of any citizen of this country were hurt….the concept of Brahmanical Patriarchy is intended to enforce effective sexual control over women to maintain not only patrilineal succession, but also caste purity, the institution unique to Hindu society.”
The advocates said that whether or not the said theory is relevant in the present context is a matter of sociological discussion and it cannot be linked even remotely with religious sentiments and thus, merely by posting these words intended to challenge the said concept, the petitioners cannot be held responsible for committing the offences attributed to them in the said FIR.
The judgment had been reserved on March 4.
The FIR had been lodged on an FIR by one Rajkumar Sharma, a resident of Jodhpur, who had said that “the accused maligned the Brahmin society at large and also acted in a manner, likely to create rift and factions in the society and induce religious hatred towards the Brahmin community as a whole. The feelings of the entire Brahmin community were badly hurt by this Tweet.”
Sharma, a Brahmin himself, had said that “various Shastras were the original creation of Brahmins, who were keeping the Indian culture alive since ages. Politicians, social workers, artists, industrialists etc. usually seek guidance and blessings from Brahmins before beginning any auspicious work… people from other countries also consult Brahmins in the matters pertaining to worship and for performing religious ceremonies”.