New Delhi: The Bombay high court on Monday, June 13 pulled up the Maharashtra government over the arrest of a 21-year-old student for alleged defamatory posts against Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and asked if the government would take cognisance of every tweet it deems offensive.
In his tweet, Bhamre had allegedly said that the time had come to create “Baramati’s Nathuram Godse for the Gandhi of Baramati”. He had, however, not mentioned the name of any leader or political party in the tweet.
— Dr.Jitendra Awhad (@Awhadspeaks) May 13, 2022
A bench of Justices S.S. Shinde and Milind Jadhav said it is unheard of that a student is being kept in custody over a tweet.
“There are hundreds and thousands of tweets everyday. Will you take cognisance of each and every tweet? We do not want FIRs like these. …Unheard of… some student is kept in custody like this,” the bench said.
The court further observed that even Pawar, a former Union minister and veteran politician, would not like that the student be kept in jail.
The court was hearing a petition filed by the student, Nikhil Bhamre, challenging the FIRs lodged against him after he posted tweets allegedly aimed at the veteran politician leader.
On the same day when Bhamre was arrested, Marathi actress Ketaki Chitale was also held for a Facebook post which did not name Pawar but was allegedly on him. Chitale’s plea was mentioned before the same bench, and the case was likely to be heard on June 10. However, there has been no update on the case as of yet.
Meanwhile, the court, after perusing the tweets posted by Bhamre on social media platform Twitter, noted that they do not name anyone.
“Nobody is named…and you (government) keep someone in prison for a month. How is this a basis of everything?” Justice Shinde asked.
Justice Shinde further said booking a person in such a case was possibly more damaging to the reputation of Pawar (than the posts themselves).
According to Bar and Bench, the judge said: “If you start taking actions like this, then you end up damaging the name of the person who has received second highest civilian award (Pawar). Even the towering personality (Pawar) will not like that such student being kept in jail. We do not want the towering personalities reputation should go down.”
The court directed the prosecutor to take instructions from the home department and make a statement of no objection for releasing Bhamre from custody.
The case will be next heard on June 16.
This article was first published on The Wire.
(With inputs from PTI)