Thursday, August 18, 2022

Prophet remarks row: SC protects Nupur from arrest

The Supreme Court Tuesday granted interim protection from arrest till August 10 to suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma in connection with the FIRs/complaints filed against her in several States over her remarks on the Prophet made during a TV debate show.
It also protected her from any coercive action in the FIRs/complaints which may be registered or entertained in the future about the May 26 telecast.
A bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala, which had earlier refused to club the multiple FIRs lodged against Sharma after coming down heavily on her for her controversial comments on the Prophet, took note of the alleged threats to life extended to her after its July 1 order.
Observing that it never wanted Sharma to visit every court for relief, the bench issued notices to the Centre and several states including Delhi, West Bengal, and Maharashtra on her plea urging protection from arrest as well as the revival of her withdrawn petition seeking clubbing of nine FIRs lodged in several states.
“In the meanwhile, as an interim measure, it is directed that no coercive action shall be taken against the petitioner pursuant to the impugned nine FIRs/complaints or such FIRs/complaints which may be registered/entertained in future pertaining to the telecast dated May 26, 2022,” the bench said.
The top court sought responses of the Centre and the concerned States by August 10, the next date of hearing.
While taking note of the submissions made by senior advocate Maninder Singh, who appeared for Sharma and referred to the threats to her life, the bench said its concern is how to ensure that the petitioner will avail of the alternative remedy as permitted by the court on July 1.
“In order to explore such modality, let notice be issued to the respondents in the miscellaneous application for August 10,” it said.
The top court said, “The petitioner has approached this court to quash all FIRs registered against her. Since her prayer can be granted in exercise of powers under Article 226, this court had on July 1 2022 relegated the petitioner to avail alternate remedy.”
It added that now the petitioner has filed a miscellaneous application pointing out interalia that it has become impossible for her to avail remedy granted by this court and that there is imminent necessity to protect her life and liberty as guaranteed under Article 21.
The bench then noted in its order that after July 1, order various incidents including Salman Chisti, a Khadim of Ajmer Dargah circulated a video for rewarding those who would behead the petitioner and one more video has been made viral of a man in UP threatening to behead her.
Singh said that the apex court had wanted Sharma to go to different courts for relief but it has become increasingly difficult for her to visit the courts due to increasing threats.
The bench permitted Sharma to file an additional affidavit giving specific details of the threats extended to her after filing the application.


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