Nupur case : The Court’s observation antithetical to Constitution
The Supreme Court made some stern observations when all that Nupur Sharma's plea sought was clubbing of the FIRs
The Supreme Court's observation in and treatment of the case of former Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nupur Sharma reveal something is getting terribly wrong with India's judicial system.
All that Sharma pleaded to the apex Court was that all FIRs against her in different states over her remarks on the Prophet be clubbed together for a hearing. But the Court had its own ways. It said "What is her business to make such remarks? These remarks have led to unfortunate incidents in the country. ...These people are not religious.
They do not have respect for other religions. These remarks were made for cheap publicity or for political agenda or some other nefarious activities... The way she has ignited emotions across the country, this lady is single handedly responsible for what is happening" across the country today.
In its observation in the case, the Court said that Sharma " should have gone to the TV and apologized to the nation" for her controversial remarks on Prophet Muhammad.
The Court's observation is antithetical to one of the cardinal principles of India's Constitution - citizens' fundamental right to express themselves in a non- violent manner.
The Preamble of the Constitution of India talks of ' a solemn resolve is .. to secure to all its citizens liberty of thought and expression'. According to Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution , all citizens have a right to freedom of speech and expression. This includes the right to express one's views and opinions about any issue .
Under Article 19(2) of the Constitution, the Government of India can frame laws and impose reasonable restrictions on the freedom of expression only in the cases involving the sovereignty and integrity of India or the security of the state, or friendly relations with foreign nations, public order, decency and morality and contempt of court, defamation and incitement to an offence.
India's independent judicial system is supposed to defend and promote this fundamental right. It is well known that Sharma made the objectionable remark, only while rebutting an argument during a May 27 television debate on the Gyanvapi mosque row. She responded to the assertion of the debater on the other side that the Shivling was just a fountain or a fawara. By glossing over Sharma's fundamental right to freedom of rebuttal in an argument, the Court seems to have committed the contempt of the Indian Constitution.
The Court's rejection of Sharma's plea to club multiple FIRs against her objectionable remarks in different states with the one in Delhi is antithetical to India's principle of ensuring speedy, fair justice to all. A settled law in the country has been that there cannot be multiple FIRs for the same offence. The court ought to have taken into consideration how difficult operationally it can be for anyone to respond to different FIRs in different places.
(Jagdish N. Singh is a senior journalist based in New Delhi. He is also Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, New York)
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