The Congress government in Rajasthan has shown an unusual alacrity in prosecuting journalist Amish Devgan for his allegedly derogatory remarks for the Sufi Saint Moinuddin Chisti on his prime time show “Aar Par” on CNN-News18 telecasted on June 15.
Representing the State of Rajasthan, Advocate Manish Singhvi argued against the quashing of the multiple FIRs filed against the embattled journalists for his remark against the much hallowed Sufi Saint of Ajmer where he described him as a “lootera”.
While Devgan’s counsel attributed the remarks to “slip of tongue” and argued that the multiple FIRs filed against the journalist should be quashed citing his unconditional apology, the prosecution counsel, Singhvi pressed for FIR and investigation into the malicious and deliberate intent of the journalist to make the objectionable remarks and thereby hurt the religious sentiments of the people.
SC: Contentions have been made. Whtd o you have to say?— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) September 25, 2020
Singhvi: @AMISHDEVGAN appears on shows and we just need an investigation on whether an offence has been committed or not. An FIR being filed is per se is only a preliminary stage and is not an abuse of process.
“FIR is the only machinery to carry out the probe. An investigation needs to take place, and thereby charge-sheets need to be filed. Court has to prima facie considered the charge sheet and the statement of witnesses. A prima facie case needs to be made out,” Singhvi contended.
As many as 7 FIRs had been filed against the journalist in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra & Telangana. Advocate Sidharth Luthra, on behalf of journalist Amish Devgan, submitted before the bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar & Sanjiv Khanna that the FIRs stipulate offences under Sections 153A, 153G, 295A, 298, 5050(2) of IPC & 66(f) of the Information Technology Act against Devgan but none of the FIRs & their contents justify their requisite ingredients in terms of the Indian Penal Code.
However, Singhvi today argued that essential ingredients of Section 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings) are there and therefore an investigation and FIR against Devgan cannot be quashed.
The State of Rajasthan’s counsel also added that the apology tendered by Amish Devgan was submitted after 30 hours from the broadcast of the show, reiterating before the court the need for an investigation to determine if the apology was an afterthought or genuine. Luthra, in his submissions, had yesterday stated that his client had offered an unconditional apology for his inadvertent error before the first FIR was filed against him and sought quashing of the FIRs against him.
Journalist Amish Devgan mistaken refers to Moinuddin Chisti as “lootera” while talking about Alauddin Khilji
Devgan was hosting a show on June 15 about the Place of Worship Special Provision Act on his show ‘Aar Par’, when he called the Sufi Saint a “lootera”. Following the show, several police complaints and FIRs were filed against the anchor in various parts of the country.
Mr Devgan had tendered an apology on Twitter a day after the show was telecasted, saying he was referring to Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji and had mistakenly named Chisti, also known as Khwaja Gareeb Nawaaz (benefactor of the poor). The journalist also added in his tweet that he has himself sought the saint’s blessings in the past.
In July this year, the Supreme Court had ordered a stay on an investigation and coercive action against the journalist in connection with the case.