FIRs Against Journalist Amish Devgan: SC Stays Investigation Until Further Notice

The Apex Court stayed investigation or any coercive action against the News18 anchor Amish Devgan. Multiple FIRs were lodged against the anchor in May, over his condemnable remarks on Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. The court, in the present case, heard a writ petition filed by Devgan himself. It pleaded to quash FIRs against the petitioner, on Friday’s hearing.

Case in Point

Amid the COVID-19 lockdown in May, Amish Devgan went on air on his show ‘Aar Paar‘; with alleged fake contentions and hate towards a minority community. According to the complainant, Devgan falsely claimed that Muslims were offering Namaz in Kurla Masjid despite the lockdown restrictions being in place. Further, the accused remarked that the Muslim crowd manhandled the police. However, the video shown on air was from a former date as opposed to what Devgan claimed on his show.

Once again, on June 15, while hosting a debate on PIL’s regarding the Place of Worship Special Provision Act Amish made derogatory remarks against Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. This led to multiple FIRs being filed against him, all across the nation.

FIRs Booked Against Devgan

Mumbai Police booked FIR against Devgan, through the complainants, Shahzad Khan and Azim Khan. While Shahzad Khan is a founding member of the Public Care Foundation, Azim Khan is the President of the All India Transport Congress (INTUC). In their statements, the complainants accused Amish of hurting the sentiments of the Muslim Community.

To this, Shahzad added that Amish’s show also led to an attack on the efficacy of the Maharashtra Police’s handling of lockdown norms. Hence, the Public Care Foundation and INTUC demanded the imposition of Section 295(a) and 124(a) on Amish and News18. Since then, several FIRs have been registered against Devgan from all across the country.

Court Hearing

Devgan’s petition filed through Advocate Vivek Jain, sought quashing of FIRs lodged against him. These invocations included Sections 295(a), 153(a), 505, and 34 of the Indian Penal Code. Advocate Rizwan Merchant, appearing for the two complainants from Maharashtra, submitted that Devgan used the term “lootera Chishti” on his show multiple times. To this, Devgan’s counsel remarked that his client made an “inadvertent error”, for which he later issued an apology. Moreover, he added that lodging of FIRs against journalists for “slip of tongue” amounts to undue harassment. He remarked that it would be a case of “grave prejudice” if the petitioner has to appear across the country.

A vacation bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and Sanjiv Khanna issued a notice on the writ petition and asked the petitioner to seek to implead all the de facto complainants. The bench observed that the notice was returnable by July 8 and the matter will be listed after that.