On Wednesday, the Bombay High Court quashed the First Information Report (FIR) registered against activist and Twitter user Sunaina Holey by the Mumbai Police over her tweet over allegations that it promoted enmity between two communities.
A bench comprising Justice SS Shinde and Justice MS Karnik of the Bombay High Court, providing relief to Holey, observed that her tweet did not name any communities and it has to be judged from the perspective of a prudent man. The Maharashtra government had booked Sunaina Holey for her tweet on the mass congregation of migrant workers outside the Bandra station amidst the Covid-19 induced nationwide lockdown in April 2020.
Granting relief to Holey, the Court observed, “Neither community nor religion is named. If test of strong or prudent person is applied said tweet cannot be said to have created hatred between community or show the petitioner has mens rea”.
In a huge embarrassment for the Mumbai Police, the Bombay High Court said that the contents of the FIR do not constitute an offence. “After careful and in-depth consideration, we deem it fit to quash FIR,” the High Court observed.
Earlier, Holey had approached the Bombay High Court with three petitions seeking to quash three FIRs filed against her.
Maharashtra government’s witch hunt against Sunaina Holey
The Mumbai Police had registered an FIR against Holey on April 15, 2020, at the Azad Maidan Police Station under section 153A for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups. In addition to the FIR filed against Holey over her tweets, the Maharashtra government had also filed two more FIRs against her in connection with her tweets against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and State Cabinet Minister Aaditya Thackeray.
The Maharashtra government seems to have shown an unhealthy and eager alacrity to prosecute those who have dared to voice opinions that are at variance with the views held by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in the state. Continuing to carry out a witch hunt against critics, Maharashtra Police had arrested Sunaina Holey for posting tweets against CM Uddhav Thackeray and Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray.
Holey was booked under Sections 153A, 505(2) and 500 of IPC in three different FIRs relating to three tweets posted by her. She was arrested in August last year. However, she was later released on bail in one of the cases registered against her by the police at Bandra Kurla Complex cyber crime department.