SC asks Bareilly court to pass order on Taslima case closure report

New Delhi, Dec 2 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday asked a court in Uttar Pradesh's Bareilly city to pronounce its order on the closure report filed by state police on a complaint against self-exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen for criticising AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal's meeting with cleric Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan just before the 2013 Delhi assembly elections.

The complaint was filed under Section 66A of Information Technology Act, 2000, that provides for proceeding against people posting annoying and inconvenient comments on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and other electronic media.

Taslima Nasreen

A bench of Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice S.A.Bobde passed the order after senior counsel K.K.Venugopal told the court that Uttar Pradesh Police has already filed a closure report.

As the court asked then what is left after police has filed the closure report, Venugopal said magistrate's court can take a different view, indicating it may or may not accept the closure report.

An FIR was filed by state police on a complaint under section 66A after Nasreen's controversial tweet criticising a meeting between Aam Aadmi Party chief Kejriwal and Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan in November 2013.

The apex court Dec 17, 2013, had restrained Uttar Pradesh Police from taking any coercive step against the writer following registration of an FIR by Bareilly police.

Nasreen has also challenged the validity of section 66A.

The court order came in the course of the hearing of a PIL by Shreya Singhal who had challenged the constitutional validity of the provision.

Singhal had moved the court after Mumbai police arrested two girls - Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Shrinivasan - for posting comments critical of Mumbai bandh in the wake of the death of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray in 2012.

After Singhal's PIL, several others including NGOs Common Cause and Peoples Union for Civil Liberties too moved the court raising several other contentious issues relating to the provisions of IT Act.

At the outset of the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh told the court that the central government has filed its response to the plea by Singhal but not in respect of others and sought two weeks adjournment to file replies to other pleas.

Declining to entertain the plea for two weeks time, the court directed the hearing of the matter on Dec 9 saying that the notice in the matter was issued Nov 30, 2012, and since then it is pending.

As Singh again urged the court to hear the matter Dec 15, the court said that in that case it would suspend the operation of the IT Act and then government can take its own time.

"If the country can manage without IT Act for decades then it can manage without it for two weeks. We will suspend the act then take as long as you want. It is pending for two years," Justice Chelameswar said making it clear that it would Dec 9 commence hearing on batch of petitions challenging section 66A's constitutional validity.

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