The Supreme Court on Friday said it will examine whether the charges against news anchor Amish Devgan in connection with a TV show, where he allegedly made some remarks on Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, warrants an investigation.
A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna told senior advocate Manish Singhvi that the ingredients of Section 295A IPC were not present in the FIR, and thus the court will look into it.
Section 295A punishes deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings by insulting religion or religious beliefs.
The court was hearing a plea by Devgan seeking quashing of FIRs registered against him in various states in connection with the show ‘Aar Paar’ on his channel, News 18, on June 15.
Singhvi, who appeared for Rajasthan, opposed the plea to quash the FIRs and said the show had hurt religious sentiments and there was “malicious intention” on Devgan’s part. He said the concept of mens rea [criminal intent] cannot be ascertained at this stage, and it is for the investigating agency to decide whether it was said maliciously or not.
On Devgan’s apology following the show, Singhvi said, “We want to know why it was done after 30 hours. Whether he was trolled for it [online] and was forced to tender it [apology].” He said Devgan’s Twitter account will have the answer to this.
Appearing for Devgan, senior advocate Siddharth Luthra said that none of the FIRs said anything about breach of law and order, or disturbance as a result of the alleged remark. He referred to earlier case laws which said that where there is an apology and the error is slight in nature, the court may consider quashing the FIR.
Singhvi, however, said it was not slight in nature and that a large number of people have felt hurt by his remarks.
Luthra said his client was in Noida and the alleged offence also occurred in Noida, and asked why should there be cases across the country. He pointed out that this was the principle applied in the matter of multiple FIRs against Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami.
Referring to one of the FIRs registered against Devgan in Ajmer, Rajasthan, Luthra said the complainant in the matter had not even seen the original video.
Singhvi said the offence is committed where the person feels offended, and not where the telecast takes place. The Khwaja Chishti shrine is located in Ajmer, and that is why people of Ajmer are offended, he said.
The top court had earlier granted Devgan protection from any coercive action and had stayed investigation in the FIRs.
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