No criminal proceedings against writer Murzban Shroff

IN Judgements | 01/08/2010
There are no grounds for criminal proceedings against short story writer Murzban Shroff on allegations of spreading communal harmony,
said a judgement of the Bombay High Court,delivered by JUSTICE V M KANADE

 

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CRIMINAL APPLICATION NO.992 OF 2010

Murzban Shroff .... Applicant.

V/s

State of Maharashtra

and Anr. .... Respondents.

Mr. Mihir Desai for the applicant.

Mr. S.R. Shinde, APP for the State.

Mr. Rajeev Patil i/b Mr. R.S. Shekhawar for Respondent No.2.

CORAM: V. M. KANADE, J.

DATE : 22ND JUNE, 2010

P.C.:-

1. Applicant has filed this application under section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code for quashing the FIR (MECR) No. 01 of 2009 which is registered by the N.M. Joshi Marg Police Station vide FIR (MECR) No.01 of 2009 for the offence punishable under section 153-B of the Indian Penal Code.

2. Brief facts are as under:-

3. Applicant is a Mumbai based writer and has published several short stories with literary journals in the US, UK, Japan and India. He has also written several books.

 

Applicant wrote a book which was published by St. Martin’s Press, U.S.A and subsequently in India it was published by Picador. This book is a collection of short stories and the title of the book is "Breathless in Bombay".

4. A private complaint was filed by one Vijay Mudras, Respondent No.3 herein in the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate, 29th Court at Dadar, Mumbai. In the complaint it was alleged that the applicant had committed an offence under section 153-B of the Indian Penal Code and it was alleged that the applicant, in one of the short stories captioned as "The House of Mine", had made scandalous

and derogatory remarks on Maharashtrians by referring to them by the derogatory and offensive word "Ghatti". It was alleged that the applicant intended to harm reputation of Maharashtrians to lower them in the esteem of their non-Maharashtrian counter parts, to ridicule and to show them in poor light in the eyes of others and a reference was made to some of the portions in the said short story which, according to the complainant, was intended to harm the reputation of Maharashtrians. According to the complainant, the statements in the said book were sufficient to cause the disturbance and damage the communal harmony. According to the complainant, the term "Ghatti", when used by people from North India, has come to acquire a derogatory connotation. It was further alleged that the book titled "Breathless in Bombay" had a tendency of fomenting and promoting disharmony, feelings of enmity, hatred and ill-will on the grounds of place of work, residence and language. In the complaint, it was therefore prayed that the matter should be referred for investigation under section 156(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code. The learned Magistrate, after

perusing the complaint passed the following order:-

" Heard. Perused contents of Book.

 

The grievance alleged requires investigation u/s 156(3) of Cr.P.C. Hence complaint is sent to N.M. Joshi Marg Police Station for investigation u/s 156(3) Cr.P.C and report till next date."

5. Applicant, thereafter, received a letter dated 17/04/2009 from Senior Police Inspector of N.M. Joshi Marg Police Station informing him that the complaint was registered against him. Applicant accordingly gave his detailed statement dated 23/04/2009 to the Senior Police

Inspector and clarified his position. The police, after investigation, came to the conclusion that no case has been made out against the applicant and, therefore, N.M. Joshi Marg Police Station filed "C" Summary Report before the learned Magistrate, Dadar, Mumbai and a letter was also written to the Public Prosecutor dated 23/09/2009 informing him of the filing of the "C" Summary Report. The Criminal

Application No.3243 of 2009 filed by the applicant in this Court challenging the private complaint and FIR was,therefore, disposed of by order dated 20/01/2010.

6. Being aggrieved by the "C" Summary Report filed by the police, Respondent No.2 – original complainant filed a protest petition dated 30/01/2010 before the learned Magistrate. The learned Magistrate on the basis of the protest petition filed by Respondent No.2 rejected the "C" Summary Report and directed the police to further investigate the case under section 173(8) of the Criminal Procedure Code through Social Services Branch, C.B. C.I.D., Mumbai. Being aggrieved by the said order of the learned Magistrate, present application has been filed by the applicant in which he is also seeking relief for quashing the said private complaint and FIR arising out of the said complaint.

7. Mr. Mihir Desai, the learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the applicant firstly submitted that no sanction had been taken under section 196(1-A) of the Criminal Procedure Code and, therefore, no cognizance could have been taken by the learned Magistrate before necessary sanction was obtained from the competent authority. It is

submitted that even if the averments made in the complaint are taken on their face value, the ingredients of the offence under section 153-B of the Indian Penal Code are not spelt out and, therefore, on that ground alone, the said complaint

is liable to be quashed. It is then submitted that while examining any article or story which is a work of art and literature so also offending portion in the said article or short story, the entire work had to be scrutinized in order to find out the intention of the author of the said work. It is submitted that if such a scrutiny had been made by the learned Magistrate, he would not have passed the impugned order directing further investigation under section 173(8) of the Criminal Procedure Code. It is further submitted that the book in question was in circulation for about two years and no untoward incident of criminal disharmony, disturbance of peace or violence had taken place because of the book. He further submitted that the learned Magistrate did not

appreciate that the Investigating Authority, after taking into consideration the objectionable text had come to the objective finding that the said text does not fall within the scope of section 153-B of the Indian Penal Code. It is submitted that, therefore, there was no question of any further investigation since subject matter of the private complaint was the story in the book and it did not require

any further investigation by way of examining witnesses. It is submitted that the learned Magistrate had erred in selectively extracting three sentences and reading them out of the context without reading the entire book. In support of the said submissions, he relied upon several judgments of this Court, other High Courts and Supreme Court. He relied upon the judgments in S. Rangarajan v. P. Jagjievan Ram and Ors1, Bobby Art International, etc. v. Om Pal Singh Hoon1 (1989) 2 SCC 574 and others1, Manzar Sayeed Khan v. State of Maharashtra and another2, Joseph Bain D’souza and another v. State of Maharashtra and others3, F.A. Picture International v. Central

Board of Film Certification and Anr.4, Kamal R. Khan v. Stateof Maharashtra5. He also relied upon the judgment of the Delhi High Court in Maqbool Fid Hussain v. Raj Kumar Pandey in Criminal Revision Petition No.114 of 2007 decided on 08/05/2008. He further relied upon the judgment of this Court in Gopal Vinayak Godse v. The Union of India6 and the judgment of the Apex Court in Ajay Goswami v. Union of India (UOI) and Ors.7(references in brackets 1:(1996) 4 SCC 1),2:2007) 5 SCC 1,3:1995(2) BomCR 317,4:2005 (1) BomCR 5,5:2009 (4) Bom CR 496, 6: AIR 1971 Bombay 56, 7:AIR 2007 SC 493).

 

8. On the other hand, Mr. Rajeev Patil, the learned Counsel appearing on behalf of Respondent No.2, submitted that the application has been filed prematurely since only order that was passed was directing the police to further investigate the case under section 173(8). He submitted that the police could have investigated the matter and still

could have submitted a negative report. He submitted that, therefore, the application challenging the said order is premature since the applicant could have waited till the report was submitted by the police. He submitted that there is no bar for registration of complaint under section 153-B and for the purpose of registration and investigation, it is not necessary to obtain sanction under section 196 (1-A) of the

Criminal Procedure Code. In support of the said submission, he relied upon the judgment in State of Karnataka and another v. Pastor P. Raju1. He then submitted that the High Court should be slow in quashing the FIR while exercising its inherent jurisdiction under section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code. He submitted that investigation should not be stayed since the police had right to investigate into the matter. He submitted that the Apex Court in several cases has laid down the parameters which are to be observed by the High Court while exercising its inherent powers under section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code. He relied upon the judgment of the Apex Court in Reshma Bano v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Others2 and also on the judgment of Allahabad High Court in Ashok Singhal v. State of U.P. & Anr.3 (ref: 1 (2006) 6 SCC 728, 2 (2008) 5 SCC 791

3 2005 (2) Crimes 7).

 

9. I have heard the learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the applicant and the learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the complainant and the learned APP for the State at great length. Since, I have already narrated the facts, I do not wish to repeat the facts of the case. The narrow issue which falls for consideration before this Court is (i) whether the offending paragraph in the short story "House of Mine" falls within the purview of provisions of section 153-B of the

Indian Penal Code, (ii) whether the police have a right to investigate and register the offence under section 153-B without obtaining sanction under section 196(1-A) of the Criminal Procedure Code and (iii) whether the allegations made in the complaint even if they are taken at their face value, constitute an offence under section 153-B of the Indian Penal Code.

10. Applicant is an author of a book (Breathless in Bombay) which was published about two years ago and which is a collection of short stories depicting the life in general in Bombay and the various people who are living in Bombay in particular. The story "House of Mine" is regarding the quandary which inhabitants of building premises are faced with after having received a notice of demolition of their building from the Building Repairs Department. The complainant had taken exception to certain utterances made by one of the characters called "Olaf" in the said short story and more particularly the utterances in the last sentence of the first para on page 81, third para on page 93 and fifth

para on page 93 which read as under:-

Utterances by Olaf in the last sentence of the first para on page 81 of the book.

(I) Olaf: " I can’t face these bloody ghatti fuckers. Bloody.... I will make them remember their mothers." We had to politely remind Olaf that most of the shopkeepers were also ghattis. We didn’t want to risk offending them."

Utterances by Olaf in third para on page 93 of the book.

(II) Olaf: "Cha, I do not waste time, man - never. When there is work, I do it on the spot. They used to call me Speedy Castellino in the office.

The bosses all knew: once Speedy Castellino was on the job, the job was as good as done. Not like these   ghatti buggers, men. Can’t trust

them with one important thing, huh. Now just see this letter. How to send it?"

Utterances by Olaf in Fifth para on page 93 of the book.

(III) Olaf: "Just see, no. How to send this? These ghatti buggers don’t

even know how to sign."

11. The learned Magistrate, initially, had directed the Police to investigate under section 156(3) and submit a report. The Police Authorities accordingly submitted a "C" Summary Report which reads as under:-

"The story revolves around an old building that is to be demolished.

Towards this purpose the residents have all gathered to come to a unanimous solution. One of them has been appointed as the main character. He is the hero of the story. He is an Indian citizen. Similarly, there are other tenants in the story whose names are Dinanath, Gopinath, Ramdulari, Sonar, Fulwala, a cloth merchant and tailor etc. The villain in the story does not hold a job and all he does is drink alcohol all day. His name is Olaf and his religion is not specified.

At all times, the word "ghatti" used in the story is being uttered by the villain. And at the end of the story the hero reprimands him for doing so. He explains to the villain that there is secular unity in our country. In no way the use of the word ghatti has affected the integrity of our country. The use of the word ghatti is doltish rather than illiterate. And such a word is used only during conversation, as dialogue. On the contrary, it is seen that by the said story the writer has given the message of unity from the view point of secularism. The complainant has read only the portion of the work which he finds objectionable at pages 83 and 91, and therefore found the action of the writer to be offensive. The complainant has presented only the conversaion/dialogue of the villain. But after seeing the other side of the story it is clear that it has been brought to the attention of the villain that there is unity in India.Therefore, if the story is read as a whole it is seen that there is no substance in the complaint."

12. Thereafter, protest petition was filed by the complainant and the learned Magistrate directed the police to make further investigation under section 173(8) and referred the matter to the Social Services Branch C.B. C.I.D.

13. The law on the question of power of the High Court to quash the complaint under section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code and under Article 227 of the Constitution of India is quite well settled. In R.P. Kapur v. State of Punjab (AIR 1960 SC 866 Lal),the Apex Court has laid down three circumstances under which criminal complaint including the FIR could be quashed by the High Court. Thereafter in State of Haryana v. Bhajan (1992 Supp (1) Supreme Court Cases 335), the Apex Court has taken into consideration the other categories of cases which could be quashed and has laid down guidelines for the purpose of exercising power under section 482 which are as under:- "1. Where the allegations made in the First Information Report or the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused.

2. Where the allegations in the First Information Report and other materials, if any, accompanying the F.I.R do not disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an investigation by police officers under Section 156(1) of the Code except under an order of a Magistrate within the

purview of Section 155(2) of the Code.

3. Where the uncontroverted allegations made in the FIR or complaint and the evidence collected in support of the same do not disclose the commission of any offence and make out a case against the accused.

4. Where, the allegations in the F.I.R do not constitute a cognizable offence but constitute only a non-cognizable offence, no investigation is permitted by a police officer without an order of a Magistrate as contemplated under Section 155(2) of the Code.

5. Where the allegations made in the F.I.R. or complaint are so absurd and inherently improbable on the basis of which no prudent person can ever reach a just conclusion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.

6. Where there is an express legal bar engrafted in any of the provisions of the Code or the concerned Act (under which a criminal proceeding is instituted) to the institution and continuance of the proceedings and/or where there is a specific provision in the Code or the concerned Act, providing efficacious redress for the grievance of the aggrieved party.

7. Where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide

and/or where the proceeding is maliciously instituted with an ulterior

motive for wreaking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to private and personal grudge."

14. The learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the applicant has submitted that averments in the complaint even if they are taken on their face value, will not constitute an offence under section 153-B of the Indian Penal Code and, therefore, on this ground alone the complaint is liable to be dismissed.

15. Before taking into consideration the relevant offending paragraphs in the said story, it would be profitable to take into consideration the provisions of section 153-B and, thereafter, see whether the offending paragraphs in the said story fall within the purview of the said section. Section 153-B of the Indian Penal Code reads as under:-

"153-B. Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration.-

(1) Whoever, by words either spoken or written or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise,-(a) makes or publishes any imputation that any class of persons cannot by reason of their being members of any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste

or community, bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established or uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, or (b) asserts, counsels, advises, propagates or publishes that any class of persons shall, by reason of their being members of any

religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community, be denied or deprived of their rights as citizens of India, or

(c) makes or publishes any assertion, counsel, plea or appeal concerning the obligation of any class of persons, by reason of their being members of any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community, and such assertion, counsel, plea or appeal causes or is likely to cause disharmony or feelings of enmity or hatred

or ill-will between such fine, or with both.

(2) Whoever commits an offence specified in sub-section (1), in any place of worship or in any assembly engaged in the performance of religious worship or religious ceremonies, shall be punished with

imprisonment which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine."

16. Section 153-B of the Indian Penal Code, as reproduced hereinabove, covers a case where a person by words either spoken or written or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise makes or publishes any imputation/assertion of three types mentioned in sub-clauses (a), (b) and (c) of subsection (1) of section 153-B, he is liable to be punished under sub-section 2. The gist of the offence is to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between members of any class, race, religion, language or regional group or caste. The intention to cause disorder, disharmony or feelings of enmity or hatred is sine qua non for the offence punishable under section 153-B and the prosecution has to prove, prima facie, the existence of mens rea on the part of the accused. The intention has to be judged primarily from the language of the article or publication and the circumstances in which the said article/story was written or published. The matter complained of within the ambit of section 153-B must be read as a whole and one is not expected to rely on stray passages in the story or strongly worded and isolated passages for proving the charge. Similarly, a sentence here and a sentence there cannot be taken out of the context and these sentences cannot be clubbed together by inferential reasoning for the purpose of proving the offence.

17. A perusal of the said provision and the offending paragraphs which are reproduced in para 10 hereinabove, it would be abundantly clear that sub-clauses (a) and (b) of sub-section(1) of Section 153-B are not attracted in the present case and, therefore, Mr. Rajeev Patil has fairly

conceded this fact during the course of argument. What has to be now seen is : whether the said offending paragraphs even if they are accepted at their face value would fall within the purview of sub-clause (c) of sub-section (1) of Section 153-B. Perusal of sub-clause (c) of sub-section (1) of Section 153-B would indicate that what is prohibited by the said subclause is any assertion, counsel, plea or appeal concerning the obligation of any class of persons, by reason of their

being members of any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community, and such assertion etc. Cause disharmony or feelings of enmity or hatred or ill-will between such members and other persons. What is, therefore, held to be punishable is that if any class of persons etc are under any obligation to do a particular thing and an assertion......... etc is made regarding such obligation then, if it creates or is likely to create disharmony, is made punishable under sub-clause (c) of sub-section (1) of the said Section. The first ingredient which has to be established in the complaint is the assertion........ etc. regarding any obligation of any caste, community etc. As a corollary, therefore, if the publication is not an assertion.......etc. regarding the obligation of any caste, community then the publication would not fall within the purview of sub-clause (c) of sub-section (1) of Section 153-B.

18. It will also be profitable in this context to take into consideration the definition of the word "obligation" as defined in The Law Lxicon:

Obligation is an act which binds a person to some performance; an act by which a person becomes bound to another or for another, or to forbear something. Obligation is the binding power of any oath, vow, duty, promise, or contract, or law, civil, political or moral.

The word "obligation" as defined in one of the dictionaries means a legal or moral duty to do or not do something. The word has many wide and varied meanings. It may refer to anything that a person is bound to do or forbear from doing, whether the duty is imposed by law, contract, promise, social relations, courtesy, kindness, or morality.

19. At this stage, it has to be noticed that section 153-A and 153-B both deal with creating disharmony etc but section 153-A is regarding promoting enmity on the grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc. whereas section 153-B is regarding assertions which are prejudicial to national integration and they are made in terms of assertions mentioned in sub-clauses (a), (b) and (c) of sub-section (1) of section 153-B. A clear distinction is drawn by the legislature in respect of these two sections and there is no overlapping of cases of creation of disharmony etc in respect of these two provisions. However, for both these sections, prosecution has to prove the intention to cause disorder or enmity and hence the prosecution has to prove, prima facie, the existence of mens rea on the part of

the accused. The Apex Court in Manzar Sayeed Khan vs.State of Maharashtra and another ((2007) 5 SCC), while dealing with the provisions of section 153-A has observed in para 16 as under:-

"16. Section 153-A IPC, as extracted hereinabove, covers a case where a person by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, promotes or attempts to promote, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities or acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony or is likely to disturb the public tranquility. The gist of the offence is the intention to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of people. The intention to cause disorder or incite the people to violence is the sine qua non of the offence under Section 153-A IPC and the prosecution has to prove prima facie the existence of mens rea on the part of the accused. The intention has to be judged primarily by the language of the book and the circumstances in which the book was written and published. The matter complained of within the ambit of

Section 153-A must be read as a whole. One cannot rely on strongly worded and isolated passage for proving the charge nor indeed can one take a sentence here and a sentence there and connect them

by a meticulous process of inferential reasoning."

20. Taking into consideration the aforesaid intention of the legislature and the definition and meaning of the word "obligation", it has now to be seen whether the offending publication and more particularly three paragraphs in the said short story "House of Mine" would fall within that category of obligation of any community. So far as the last sentence of the first paragraph on page 81 of the said book is concerned, it is an assertion made by Olaf, who is one of the characters in the said story. He states that he can’t face these bloody ghatti fuckers. The said expression does not refer to any assertion regarding obligation of any community. It is,at the highest, a derogatory remark made by the person who is shown to be embittered and frustrated.

The said paragraph, therefore, if viewed from any angle, would not fall within the purview of sub-clause (c) of subsection (1) of Section 153-B. The second assertion is made in third para on page 93 of the said book in which reference is made that you can’t trust them with one important thing. Even if it is accepted at its face value, at the most, it is an assertion made by one of the characters in the story showing distrust. This also cannot be said to be an assertion asking Maharashtrians in general from doing or not doing something which they are obliged to do. Therefore, this assertion does not fall within the purview of sub-clause (c) of sub-section (1) of section 153-B. The last assertion is in 5th para on page 93 of the said book where reference is made about ghatti buggers and they don’t even know how to sign.

Again, therefore, this would not relate to any obligation about any class of persons etc. Therefore, even if these paragraphs are read in isolation and out of context, then also they would not come within the purview of section 153-B.

Therefore, in my view, even if the case of the complainant is accepted as is averred in the complaint, it would not attract provisions of section 153-B. On this ground alone, the said complaint is liable to be quashed.

21. Apart from that, even the police who were asked to investigate under section 156(3) have very succinctly analyzed the short story of the author and have noted that the word "ghatti"used in the story is uttered by a Villain whohad been reprimanded by the Hero in doing so. The Hero of the story explains to the Villain about the secular unity in our country. The police, therefore, have observed that the use of the word "ghatti" does not affect the integrity of our country. The report also mentions that the portion of the said work has been taken out of context and only a portion of the entire story is mentioned in the complaint. I am of the view that the police in their report have rightly summarized that if the story is read as a whole then there is no substance in the complaint.

22. Perusal of section 153-B, particularly sub-clause (c) of sub-section (1) of the said section reveals that what constitutes an offence under this clause is assertion, appeal etc concerning the obligation of any class of persons by reason of their being members of any religious etc.

Therefore, the said publication of the said assertion, appeal should relate to the said obligation. To give an illustration, in Sikh Religion, it is obligatory for Sikh to wear Turban and carry Kirpan or for Hindu not to eat cow meat or for Muslim to pray Namaz for five times in a day. It is apparent therefore that if the assertion, appeal pertains to any such

obligation of the member of a religious group etc and such a plea, appeal is likely to cause disharmony only then it would fall under sub-clause (c) of sub-section (1) of Section 153-B.

The averments in the complaint, therefore, even if they are accepted at their face value, do not constitute an offence under section 153-B(1)(c) since the said character Olaf in the said story does not make any reference to any obligation in respect of Maharashtrians.

23. While construing the intention of the author in publishing the article/book or film the effect of the words has to be judged from the standards of reasonable, strongminded, firm and courageous men, and not of those of weak and vacillating minds. It has been held that standards of ordinary reasonable man has to be taken into consideration while interpreting the offending article. In this context, it

would be relevant to consider the observations of the Apex Court in following cases.

The Apex Court in Ramesh vs. Union of India (SCC 668,1988) which is popularly called as Tamas Case laid down the standard of judging the effect of the words or expression used in the movie. The Apex Court, quoted with approval the observations of Vivian Bose, J. in Bhagwati Charan Shukla v. Provincial Govt. (AIR 1947 Nag 1) which read as under:-

"the effect of the words must be judged from the standards of reasonable, strong-minded, firm and courageous men, and not those of weak and vacillating minds, nor of those who scent danger in every

hostile point of view.... It is the standard of ordinary reasonable man

or as they say in English law, ‘the man on the top of a Clapham omnibus’."

Ramesh case ((1988) 1 SCC 668), SCC p.676, para 13) Hidayatullah, C.J in K.A. Abbas v. Union of India ([1971] 2 SCR 446) with regard to power of pre-censorship observed as under:-

"The task of the censor is extremely delicate.... The standards that we set out our censors must make a substantial allowance in favour of freedom thus leaving a vast area for creative art to interpret life and

society with some of its foibles along with what is good. We must not look upon such human relationships as banned in toto and for ever

from human thought and must give scope for talent to put them before society. The requirements of art and literature include within themselves a comprehensive, view of social life and not only in its ideal form and the line is to be drawn where the average man moral man begins to feel embarassed or disgusted at naked portrayal of life without the redeeming touch of art or genius of social value. If the depraved begins to see in these things more than what an average person would, in much the same way as it is wrongly said, a Frenchman sees a woman’s legs in everything, it cannot be helped. In our scheme of things ideas having redeeming social or artistic value must also have importance and protection for their growth."

24. In my view, taking into consideration the aforesaid principle, the Court while exercising its jurisdiction under section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code while judging the offending passages has to apply standard of ordinary man of common sense and prudence. Viewed from that angle, in my view, the said offending passages can in no

circumstances be said to fall within the purview of section 153-B of the Indian Penal Code.

25. Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India protects rights regarding freedom of speech and expression of the citizens. These rights, however, are subject to reasonable restrictions which can be imposed by the Statute. Section 153-B imposes reasonable restrictions on the right of the citizens to publish any appeal, assertion etc. This right is subject to reasonable restriction on the grounds set out in Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India. It has been held that it was necessary to impose reasonable restrictions in the larger interest of the community and country. It has been held that they strike proper balance between the liberty guaranteed and the social interests specified in Article 19(2).

26. The fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression of opinion is of paramount importance under a democratic Constitution and it has been placed on high pedestal as can be seen from the observations made b the Apex Court in various judgments. In Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India[1978] 2 SCR 621, Bhagwati, J. at page 696 has observed as under:-

"Democracy is based essentially on free debate and open discussion, for that is the only corrective of Government action in a democratic set up. If democracy means government of the people by the people, it is obvious that every citizen must be entitled to participate in the democratic process and in order to enable him to intelligently exercise his right of making a choice, free and general discussion of public matters is absolutely essential."

-->
Subscribe To The Newsletter

Journalists in Kashmir are up in arms over the summons issued by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to Kashmir Observer journalist Aqib Javed Hakim, for his interview with jailed separatist leader Asiya Andrabi in January. This amounted to intimidation and harassment, a joint statement of the Kashmir Working Journalist Association (KWJA) and Kashmir Journalist Association said, adding that, in the Kamran Yousuf case, the NIA had tried to define journalism by its own skewed standards.                           

D Sunitha, an ASP in the Telangana Police, filed complaints with the NBSA against character assassination by some Telugu TV channels. NBSA has announced an agreement  arrived at with HMTV whereby the channel will broadcast an agreed upon apology statement three times a day on three days starting today.The complaint was against ETV, Sakshi and HMTV, the NBSA has reserved its order in other two cases. TV9 was as much of an offender, but it is not a member if the NBSA.                   

View More
Announcement