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Chhatisgarh High Court grants interim relief to BJP Spokesperson Sambit Patra in the case against him for tweet on Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi

Chhattisgarh Police had registered a case against Sambit Patra for supposedly promoting animosity between different groups and hurting 'religious sentiments' for his tweets against Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi

On Thursday, the Chhattisgarh High Court reportedly granted interim relief to BJP spokesman Sambit Patra in a case against him for his contentious tweet against Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi. Patra had moved the High Court seeking to quash two First Information Reports (FIRs) that were lodged against him, in connection to the said tweet.

His Counsel Ajay Barman argued that the BJP spokesperson had recently been discharged from the hospital, after being treated for Coronavirus. Besides, Barman said that the offences pertaining to public mischief and promoting religious animosity were not made out. With regard to the defamation suit filed against his client, the counsel argued that the cognisance of the same could only be taken on a written complaint, as per Section 199(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), and not on the basis of a police complaint.

Barman stated that the health condition of the BJP spokesman could deteriorate if he was arrested and hence sought for interim relief. As such, Justice Sanjay K Agrawal ordered that no coercive action should be taken against Sambit Patra until further orders. The next hearing would be in 4 weeks time. Sambit Patra was represented by Advocates Ajay Barman, Awadhesh Singh, Ramakant Mishra, and Sharad Mishra. Additional Advocate General Sunil Otwani represented the State of Chattisgarh.

“Considering the submissions of learned counsel for the parties and further considering the contention of the petitioner that the petitioner is a patient of COVID-19 and has recently been discharged from hospital and is undergoing quarantine for 14 days, and in view of the provision contained in Section 199 (1) of the CrPC, it would be expedient to direct that till the next date of hearing, no coercive steps shall be taken against the petitioner pursuant to FIR under Crime No. 192/2020 registered against the petitioner…”, the Court directed.

Tweets by Sambit Patra

While replying to a tweet posted by the official handle of the Congress party, Sambit Patra had written, “Agar aap hota toh aisa hota (This would have happened if you were there in power).” Mocking the grand old party for corruption, the BJP Spokesperson said, “If the Coronavirus outbreak had happened during the Congress rule, there would have been ₹5000 crore mask scam, ₹7000 crores test kit scam, ₹20,000 crore Jawahar Sanitiser scam and ₹26,000 crores Rajiv Gandhi virus research scam.”

After an FIR was lodged against him for the above-mentioned tweet, Sambit Patra said that the Congress workers had complained to the teacher on calling Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi corrupt. “You will get insulted even further. Nehru gave birth to the Kashmir problem. If Nehru did not exist, then, the Kashmir issue would not have existed too. As for Rajiv gandhi, he stole money in the Bofors scandal and killed 3000 Sikhs”, the BJP Spokesperson remarked. This tweet was followed by another FIR against him.

The Case against Sambit Patra

On May 11, the Chhattisgarh Police had registered a case against Sambit Patra for supposedly promoting animosity between different groups and hurting ‘religious sentiments’ for his tweets against Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi. The FIR was lodged against Patra on the complaint of Chattisgarh Youth Congress President, Poornachand Padhi at the Civil Lines Police Station of Raipur under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 505(2) (public mischief) and 298 (uttering words to wound religious feelings).

According to the complainant, the tweets by Sambit Patra could scare and provoke members of the Sikh community which may, in turn, disturb public tranquillity. He also argued that tweeting such things was “prejudicial to the maintenance of peace and harmony between religious groups”. Refuting claims of the complicity of the two former Prime Ministers in either riots or corruption, Padhi said that they were not convicted by any Court of law and as such the allegations levelled against them by Sambit Patra were baseless.

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