Gareeb Nawaz Mosque case: Allahabad HC rejects plea to quash FIR relating to video report done by The Wire

Masjid committee secretary of Gareeb Nawaz Mosque Mohammad Anees and a Barabanki resident Mohd. Naeem had moved court to quash FIR lodged in relation to the video report about mosque’s demolition

Allahabad HC
Allahabad HC

NH Web Desk

The Allahabad High Court has rejected the plea by the Masjid committee secretary of the Gareeb Nawaz Mosque, Mohammad Anees and a local resident of Barabanki, Mohd. Naeem to quash the FIR registered against them by the Uttar Pradesh Police in relation to a video report done by news portal The Wire regarding the demolition of the mosque.

A Division Bench of Justices Ramesh Singh and Narendra Kumar Johari said that it is open for the petitioners to move an anticipatory bail in the matter and it cannot quash the proceedings at the moment, Bar & Bench reported.

On the previous hearing, the court had given two days time to the state and asked it to get instructions about the number of FIRs against the petitioners.

Counsel for the petitioners submitted during the hearing, "All the charges under 153A (sedition) and other connected charges are unsustainable."

He pointed out that one of the petitioners is the secretary of the Masjid committee and the second petitioner used to go to the mosque for offering prayers.

It was argued that the dispute with respect to the mosque in question was already a subject matter of a contempt petition in which the court had already issued notice to the SDM, Divyanshu Pandey and state authorities.

Further, it was submitted that the FIR filed by the Uttar Pradesh Police was baseless.

The UP Police had registered the FIR on a complaint filed by Sub-Inspector Mahendra Singh of PS Ram Snehi Ghat in Barabanki alleging that the report by the news portal was based on baseless and untrue facts.

The accused were booked for offences under Sections 153 (provocation to cause riot), 153A (promoting enmity between religious groups), 120-B (conspiracy) and 501 (printing defamatory material) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

As reported by National Herald on June 25, the FIR included the names of two journalists, Seraj Ali and Mukul Chauhan of The Wire.

The plea submitted that the allegations in the FIR were baseless and the life of petitioners was under threat because the police can arrest them anytime.

It was submitted that the FIR impinges upon freedom of speech and expression guaranteed to every citizen under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

In this regard, reliance was place on Supreme Court's decision in Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras, in which the top court held that there can be no doubt that freedom speech includes freedom of propagation of ideas, and that freedom is ensured by "freedom of circulation".

National Herald had reported on May 19 that the Barabanki district administration demolished the mosque claiming it was an unauthorized structure built on government land.

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