Complaint against expelled BJP leader Nupur Sharma, 3 others | Court asks SSP Srinagar to investigate if sufficient ground exists to proceed against accused

Complaint against expelled BJP leader Nupur Sharma, 3 others | Court asks SSP Srinagar to investigate if sufficient ground exists to proceed against accused
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Srinagar, June 18: A Court here on Saturday asked Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Srinagar to investigate if there is sufficient ground to proceed against the accused as it referred a complaint filed by a lawyer, seeking punitive action against suspended spokesperson of Bharatiya Janata Party Nupur Sharma and party’s expelled Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal besides two others for “blasphemous” remarks against Prophet Muhammed (SAW).

“I have gone through the complaint and have heard the counsel. All the accused persons in the case reside outside the territorial jurisdiction of this court and thus inquiry under section 202 CrPC is mandatory before issuing process against the accused persons,” said City Magistrate Srinagar Ajay Kumar in his order after hearing advocate N A Ronga on behalf of the complainant, advocate Muhammad Ashraf Bhat.

While the Court referred the case for investigation to SSP Srinagar under section 202 CrPC for “ascertaining whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding in the case”, it said: “Inquiry shall be concluded before the next date of hearing which is fixed on 28-07-2022”.

Notably, under section 202 of CrPC, a Magistrate is competent “to postpone the issue of process against the accused and can either inquire into the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by a police officer for the purpose of deciding whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding”.

In his complaint before the court, Bhat seeks directions for issuing process against the accused who also included Navika Kumar, Editor Times Now and Kirtima Maravoor, compliance Officer Bennett, Coleman & Company Ltd. (TV Division), and punishing them for offences under sections of 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 153B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration), 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage reli­gious feelings), 298 (Uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person) & 505(2) (Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes).

“On May 26, 2022, the accused (Navika Kumar) aired a TV-Debate ‘The Gyanvapi Files’ with the intention of spreading hatred, stigmatising and demeaning the Muslim community on national television,” the complainant said, adding, “At the outset, the entire debate on ‘The Gyanvapi Files’ appeared to be one-sided and partisan violating the basic principles of journalism and those laid down by the esteemed News Broadcasting Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA) where the host being completely helpful and supportive towards Nupur Sharma.”

The complainant contends that while Nupur Sharma used “inflammatory and derogatory” remarks about the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), he said, Jindal endorsed the statement made by the former by publishing a tweet from his official twitter handle, “uttering similar blasphemous remarks willfully and intentionally.”

“The accused used the National Television platform to speak such vile comments targeting the Muslim Community,” he said, adding, “The statements have been made with the intention of causing enmity, hatred and ill will between religious communities and goes against the secular fabric of the Country, and the religious tolerance.”

The statement made by Navika Kumar on Prophet Muhammad (SAW), the complainant said, is “volatile of Indian law and is particularly and blatantly offensive to the Muslim community, irrespective of the context with which it was made.”

The complainant submits that the remarks amounted to “hate speech and could instigate communal violence.” “It is an act which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different groups and is likely to disturb the public tranquility.”

Referring to Supreme Court judgments, the complainant submitted that the Apex Court has stated that “hate speech lays the groundwork for broad attacks on the vulnerable that can range from discrimination, to ostracism, deportation, violence, and even to genocide.”

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