How can you keep someone in jail for month for social media posts not naming anyone, asked the Bombay High Court on Monday as it pulled up the Maharashtra government over the arrest of a 21-year-old pharmacy student for his alleged derogatory posts against NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. The HC, further directed the Chief Public Prosecutor (PP) of Maharashtra Aruna Pai to seek the advice of the state Home ministry for a ‘no-objection’ over the release of the student.
Last month, Bhamare was arrested as six First Investigation Reports (FIR) were lodged against him, following which he missed his exams.
Bhamare was booked under several provisions of the Indian Penal Code including Sections 153, 153A, (Promoting enmity between groups) 500, 501 (defamation), 504 (criminal intimidation), 505, 506 (statements leading to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Pointing out that by arresting the student, the state is damaging Sharad Pawar’s reputation in the process, the two-judge bench, led by Justice SS Shinde said, “If you start taking action like this, then you [will] end up damaging the name of the person who has received the second highest civilian award (Padma Vibhushan). [It is] unheard of that some student is kept in custody like this. Even the towering personality will not like that such a student be kept in jail.”
The bench further pointed out the absurdity of the arrest as no name was mentioned in the alleged social media posts made by the student. “There are hundreds and thousands of tweets posted every day. Will you take cognizance of each and every tweet? We do not want FIRs like these…Nobody is named. And you (State) keep someone in prison for a month. How is this a basis of everything?” the HC said, according to Live Law.
The two-judge bench heard the petition by Subhash Jha, Bhamare’s counsel, seeking to cancel the FIR against the student.