THE SUPREME COURT STAYS INVESTIGATION AND COERCIVE ACTION AGAINST JOURNALIST AMISH DEVGAN
Amish Devgan is a renowned anchor of the news channel NEWS 18. Multiple FIR’S were lodged against him for calling the famous Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti who is also known as Khwaja Ghareeb Nawaz as a “looter” and an “attacker” while hosting a debate on PIL’s regarding the Place of Worship Special Provision Act on his show ‘Aar Par’ on June 15, 2020. Following that, several police complaints and FIRs were registered against the anchor across the country. Devgan’s petition seeks to quash of the FIRs which have invoked sections 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief) and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The apex court of the country i.e. The Supreme Court on Wednesday (8th July 2020) directed that the interim orders staying investigation and coercive action against journalist Amish Devgan for multiple FIRs filed against him in connection with his remarks against Sufi Saint Moinuddin Chishti shall continue. The court further said that all the investigations concerning the matter will also remain suspended. Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Devgan, informed the bench that status report regarding the investigation as directed on the last date has been filed. A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna allowed the Petitioners to serve copies on the de facto complainants who had not been served and directed the Union and other respondents to file a reply in two weeks. The Petitioner can file rejoinder thereafter.
On June 26, the top court had stayed till the next date of hearing, investigation and coercive action against News18 anchor Amish Devgan on the multiple FIRs registered against him over his remarks on Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.
A vacation bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna had issued a notice on Devgan’s writ petition seeking quashing of the FIRs and asked him to implead all the defacto complainants.
Siddharth Luthra submitted that his client had made an “inadvertent error” during his show for which he later issued a public apology. Amish Devgan had apologized for his comments on Twitter. He stated “In 1 of my debates, I inadvertently referred to ‘Khilji’ as Chishti. I sincerely apologize for this grave error and the anguish it may have caused to followers of the Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti, whom I revere. I have in the past sought blessings at his dargah. I regret this error.” Siddharth Luthra said that lodging FIRs against the journalist for a “slip of the tongue” is unjust and amounts to undue harassment.”If this starts happening, where people are dealt with for slip of the tongue, what will happen? Errors are made by everyone. He has also profusely apologized,” Luthra had submitted.
He said that multiple FIRs have been registered in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Telangana against Devgan and that it would cause grave prejudice to him if he is asked to appear in different places across the country in connection with the FIRs. His family members are also being threatened and harassed, his advocate Luthra said.
Advocate Rizwan Merchant, appearing for two complainants from Maharashtra, submitted that Devgan used the term “Lootera Chishti” more than once during his show.