Calcuttacal HC rejects police plea to file FIR against BJP’s Suvendu for remarks made during demonstration

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday rejected the plea of the city police to file an FIR against BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari for his remarks made during a demonstration in connection with the death of a student of Jadavpur University allegedly after ragging in August.

In his order, Justice Jay Sengupta said mere use of slang language in public discourse would not amount to a cognisable offence.

The court, however, said that uttering slang language in public is not expected of a political leader of some stature.

Adhikari, the leader of the opposition in the state assembly, was also directed to cooperate with the investigation.

The Jadavpur police station prayed for filing an FIR against Adhikari on the grounds that the BJP leader made some uncharitable remarks against the police personnel during the demonstration on August 17.

It was also alleged that he had obstructed the police personnel in discharging their duties on that day. A video clip was submitted by the police in support of the complaint.

Adhikari moved the high court seeking to quash the FIR.

“The purported acts of the petitioner on the particular date prima facie did not amount to assault or use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duty,” the order read.

What appears from the complaint and the video footage is that an altercation ensued between the police and Adhikari after a protest, it said.

“In the midst of this, the petitioner was found having a spat with a police officer, allegedly calling him a stooge of the establishment and even using intemperate language,” the court said.

A mere usage of slang language even in public discourse would not amount to a cognizable offence unless it amounts to obscenity, it said.

“It is made clear that even under grave provocation, utterance of slang language in public, is an act done in poor taste and is not expected of a political leader of some stature or, for that matter, any public figure,” according to the order.

“From a plain reading of the letter of complaint and perusal of the video clipping, no case of wrongful restraint is made out either. From the video clip it appears that the petitioner was moving away while having such a conversation,” the bench said.

The court said that considering the allegations made in the complaint and the video footage, it does not appear that a cognisable offence is prima facie made out against the petitioner.

It is doubtful whether even non-cognizable cases would be made out on the instant facts, the order said.

“If such incidents are construed as amounting to offences under Section 341 (wrongful restraint) or 353 (Assault or use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty) of the Penal Code, then it will sound a death knell for a citizen’s right to protest.

“For instance, a partisan police officer can then simply broach a conversation with the protesters, lead them to an altercation and then, arrest them,” the order read.

Also Read

Asking Adkhikari to cooperate with the investigation, the bench said that a reasonable notice seeking examination of the petitioner by offering a choice of date and time for the same, would not amount to coercive action.

In the backdrop of a PIL, which is pending in the court, in connection with registering FIRs against Adhikari, the single bench said it has the power to consider the prayer made in the instant case.

Justice Rajashekhar Mantha of the Calcutta High Court on December 8, 2022, in an interim order said that the administration cannot file any FIR against the BJP leader without the permission of the court. But a division bench had set aside that order.

The BJP leader then approached the Supreme Court against that order and the top court returned the matter to the high court and it is pending.

Related Articles

Latest Articles