Renowned Advocate Prashant Bhushan filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution. The writ petition sought quashing of the FIR registered against him. The FIR was filed by the Gujarat Police alleging that he hurt religious sentiments.
The FIR states that Bhushan made critical comments on twitter against Union Minister Prakash Javadekar. Additionally, he posted a picture of himself watching ‘Ramayana‘ Serial amidst lockdown. He tweeted that “As crores starve and walk hundreds of miles home due to the lockdown, our heartless ministers celebrate consuming and feeding the opium of Ramayana & Mahabharata to the people!” The complainant alleged that he has hurt the religious sentiments of people by his tweet. In effect, a complaint was registered under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code.
Contentions by Prashant Bhushan
Bhushan defended himself stating that there was no intention on his part of hurting any religious sentiments. That the tweet only highlighted the apathy of Union Minister in handling the migrant worker crisis. Henceforth, no offence is made out against him or the religion. Moreover, the petition asserts that the FIR amounts to a violation of his right to freedom of speech and expression. Bhushan claims that the FIR is an abuse of process of law. It is explicitly to muzzle valid criticism of governmental actions.
Supreme Court’s Take
On May 1, 2020, the Supreme Court issued notice to the opposite party. While also granting interim protection to the renowned advocate from arrest in the FIR registered against him. The Supreme Court will hear the petition on May 2, 2020. The bench comprised of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Sanjiv Khanna.