SC grants protection to Prashant Bhushan in ‘Gujarat FIR’ case

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday granted protection to activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan from any coercive action in an FIR lodged against him at Rajkot in Gujarat for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of the Hindus.

The FIR was lodged by former Army personnel Jaidev Rajnikant Joshi at Bhaktinagar police station in Rajkot alleging that Bhushan hurt religious sentiments of Hindus by tweeting against the re-telecast of Ramayana and Mahabharata serials on DD during the ongoing nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While granting interim relief and protection to Bhushan, the apex court said, “anybody can watch anything on TV” and questioned as to how one can ask people not to watch a particular programme.

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna, hearing Bhushan’s plea through video conferencing, issued notice to the Gujarat Police and listed the matter after two weeks.

“Issue notice. In the meantime, no coercive action be taken against the petitioner (Prashant Bhushan) in First Information Report…lodged on April 12…,” the court said in its order.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Bhushan, sought quashing of the FIR as also interim protection against any coercive measure against the activist lawyer for the time being.

In his complaint, Joshi had accused Bhushan of using word ‘opium’ for Ramayana and Mahabharata in a tweet on March 28 which hurt the sentiments of many Hindu people .

The FIR has been lodged under penal provisions for offences like criminal conspiracy, committing malicious act to outrage religious feelings and causing fear among public inducing them to commit an offence against State.

As crores starve & walk hundreds of miles home due to forced lockdown, our heartless ministers celebrate consuming & feeding the opium of Ramayana & Mahabharata to the people, reads Bhushan’s tweet.

Dave said that he was not on the issue of as to what people should watch on TV, but was arguing against registration of the FIR.

Bhushan had filed the plea on Thursday and it was listed on Friday before the bench, the registry sources said.

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