The Supreme Court has denied protection from arrest to professor Shaharyar Ali, the Head of the Department of History at SRK College, Firozabad, who allegedly made objectionable remarks on Facebook against Union minister Smriti Irani. While rejecting the same, the SC two-judge bench comprising of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta observed that social media cannot be used to defame others.
Not granting relief from arrest to the professor, the judges rebuked Ali, saying that people must remain mindful of the language they use against others while critiquing, criticising or mocking them on social media.
‘You can’t say anything you like and then want to get away’, SC slams Firozabad professor for his defamatory post against Smriti Irani
“You can’t defame women like this. You cannot use social media just to defame. What kind of language is being used? There is a language to criticise. There is a language to say jokes. You can’t say anything you like and then want to get away,” said the two-judge bench, denying anticipatory bail to Shaharyar Ali.
The matter had come for hearing in the Supreme Court on Friday (July 9, 2021). Professor Shaharyar Ali had approached the apex court after Allahabad High Court rejected his anticipatory bail application in May 2021.
The High Court had, while rejecting the bail application, observed that the professor’s conduct of this kind prima facie does not entitle him to anticipatory bail and had remarked that Ali was entitled to surrender and seek regular bail, which would then be considered in accordance with the law.
Professor’s counsel claims his FB was hacked
Challenging the Allahabad HC order, Ali’s counsel Vikas Singh defended his client before the Supreme Court saying that the professor’s Facebook account was hacked and that as soon as he came to know about the contentious post, he published an apology.
However, the Supreme Court bench remained unimpressed by the lame excuse submitted by Ali’s counsel in court. “What you are saying is an afterthought. You used the same account to post your apology but you say your account was hacked. This shows you are the one still using that account. Is there anything to show that your account had been hacked?” asked the court.
On this, the counsel said that though he had nothing to show about his account getting hacked, his conduct of posting the apology should be construed as being truthful.
Miffed by the explanation, the court retorted: “We are not able to believe your hacking story. If your account was hacked, how can you access your own account? It can’t be called hacking. And if someone has used your account to post something, you will still be liable prima facie. You can prove your innocence before the trial court if you have not done anything.”
Dismissing the professor’s anticipatory bail plea, the Supreme Court slammed Ali saying: “And then you think that by saying sorry, all your acts can be washed off. It is not like that. We are not persuaded,” added the bench, giving the Firozabad professor two weeks to surrender before the trial court in Firozabad.
Shaharyar Ali booked for posting “obscene content” about Smriti Irani on Facebook
For the uninitiated, the Firozabad police had booked the professor for an allegedly obscene Facebook post against Union Minister in March 2021. The FIR was filed against Ali based on the complaint filed by a BJP leader, who took strong objection to the professor’s defamatory post against the Union Minister.
Ali was booked for offences under Section 505 (2) of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly promoting enmity between communities, apart from Section 67A of the Information Technology Act for publishing obscene material.