Journalist Amish Devgan has moved Supreme Court urging it to quash the First Information Report (FIR) registered against him for hurting religious sentiments by referring to Sufi saint Moinuddin Chisti in derogatory terms, legal news website BarandBench.com has reported.
The petition to be heard on June 26 by a Vacation Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari states that Devgan had "no intention" to hurt any religious sentiment, and thus the FIR should be quashed.
On his June 15 news show, Devgan had used the term ‘Lootera Chisti’ (‘Chisti the robber’), inviting furious reactions from the Muslim community throughout the country.
The news anchor made the comment during a debate on a PIL about the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act on his show ‘Aar Par’. He had allegedly called Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, better known as Khwaja Gareeb Nawaz, an “attacker” and a “looter”.
According to the Pydhonie (Mumbai) Police, in reaction to Devgan's statements, a complaint was received from the Raza Academy. The police then recorded a statement from Raza Academy General Secretary Arif Razvi, and registered the FIR.
The petition prays for an interim stay on the investigation against Devgan, and for the FIRs filed against him to be quashed, as it is a "small issue".
The petition primarily states that the FIRs against Devgan would stifle freedom of speech and expression of journalists, as the reference to Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti as a “lootera” was an “inadvertent error” committed during a heated debate segment.
Devgan also argues that there is no mens rea or intention made out in the case.
Further, after his show, Devgan had tweeted and issued an apology stating that he had mistakenly referred to ‘Khilji’ as ‘Chishti’, and said that he also has visited the Dargah for the saint’s blessings.
Later, another FIR was registered against the journalist by the Nanded police under Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code.
Devgan, in his plea also seeks consolidation of FIRs and transfer of the case to any court in the National Capital Region (NCR).