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The accused, on the other hand, argued that he had only received the message in question and it was not sent by him to others.
The Allahabad High Court recently refused to quash the chargesheet filed against a man accused of posting objectionable message on WhatsApp regarding remarks on Goddess Durga.
The bench of Justice Manju Rani Singh said that the internet and social media has become important tool through which individuals can exercise their right to freedom of expression but the right to freedom of expression comes with its own set of special responsibilities and duties.
"It does not confer upon the citizens the right to speak without responsibility nor does it grant unfettered licence for every possible use of language," said the judge.
A First Information Report had been filed against one Dr. Shiv Sidharth in the year 2021 under Sections 295A IPC and Section 67 of the I.T. Act, 2008.
The complainant had alleged that the message posted by the accused hurt the sentiments of the people of the Hindu community and there was a resistance shown by the aforesaid community.
After investigation, the Investigating Officer had submitted the chargesheet, pursuant to which the accused had been summoned by the concerned court vide order dated 31.10.2021. Hence, the present petition had been filed.
The counsel for the accused argued that the accused was innocent and he had been falsely implicated in the matter. The counsel submitted that the accused had received the message, but the same was not sent/forwarded by him.
He further contended that prima facie there was no case made out against the accused and there were no ingredients to substantiate the said fact as alleged in the FIR, therefore, the proceedings initiated against the accused amounted to nothing but abuse of process of law and the same was liable to be quashed.
On the other hand, the Additional Government Advocate submitted that during investigation, two mobile phones had been recovered from the accused and on examination of WhatsApp messages of the aforesaid, the allegations as leveled against the accused regarding the messages were found to be true as the same found place in the WhatsApp chat of the accused.
As regards the submission made by the counsel for the accused that he had only received the message, the AGA submitted that the accused admitted that the aforesaid message had been received by him, and in the WhatsApp chat, he admitted that he may be excused and forgiven for the fault which had been committed by him, which meant that he admitted that he had received the message and had sent the same to other groups.
Court said that on close reading of aforesaid Section 295A IPC, it indicates that section 295A does not stipulate everything to be penalized and any and every act would tantamount to insult or attempt to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of class of citizens.
"It penalize only those acts of insults to or those varieties of attempts to insult the religion or religious belief of a class of citizens which are perpetrated with the deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of that class of citizens. Insults to religion offered unwittingly or carelessly or without any deliberate or malicious intention to outrage the religious feelings of that class do not come within the Section," court underscored.
However, court noted that in the case at hand, the accused had admitted that the aforesaid message had been received by him, and in his WhatsApp chat he had stated that he may be excused and forgiven for the fault which he had committed.
"...which means that he admits that he has received the message and sent the same to other groups," court opined.
Therefore, upon perusal of F.I.R. and the allegations made therein as well as material against the accused among other factors, court opined that a cognizable offence against the accused was made out.
Accordingly, court dismissed the present plea.
Case Title: Dr.Shiv Sidharth @ Shiv Kumar Bharti v. State Of U.P And Another
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