SC extends interim stay on investigation and coercive action against Amish Devgan

Multiple FIRs were registered against the News18 anchor for calling Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, better known as Khwaja Ghreeb Nawaz, as an “attacker” and “looter” during a show on June 15

Amish Devgan
Amish Devgan
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NH Web Desk

The Supreme Court on Wednesday 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 Moinnuddin Chishti shall continue, legal news website LiveLaw.in has reported.

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 week. 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 notice on his writ petition seeking quashing of the FIRs and asked him to implead all the defacto complainants.

Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Devgan, submitted that his client had made an "inadvertent error" during his show for which he later issued public apology. Lodging of FIRs against the journalist for a "slip of tongue" is unjust and amounts to undue harassment, he submitted.

"If this starts happening, where people are dealt with for slip of the tongue, what will happen? Errors people make. He has also profusely apologised," 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, 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.

Background

While hosting a debate on June 15 on PIL's regarding the Place of Worship Special Provision Act on his show 'Aar Par', Amish had called Khwaja Moinuddin Chisthi, better known as Khwaja Ghreeb Nawaz, an "attacker" and "looter".

Following that, several police complaints and FIRs were registered against the anchor across the country.

Devgan's petition seeks quashing 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).

Devgan had also profusely apologised for referring to the Sufi Saint as a "lootera" and called it an "inadvertent error".

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