4 Jun 2023 6:30 AM GMT
The Calcutta High Court has quashed criminal proceedings against a school teacher who was accused in a case alleging spreading of communal hatred and violence through comments made on Facebook.The court ruled that being tagged in comments on social media by any other person necessarily "does not confer any liability or responsibility" on the person being tagged.The single judge bench of...
The Calcutta High Court has quashed criminal proceedings against a school teacher who was accused in a case alleging spreading of communal hatred and violence through comments made on Facebook.
The court ruled that being tagged in comments on social media by any other person necessarily "does not confer any liability or responsibility" on the person being tagged.
The single judge bench of Justice Ananya Bandyopadhyay observed:
“The petitioner seemed to have been tagged in the Facebook post in dispute allegedly uploaded by another co-accused. The documents in the case diary did not disclose any comment of the petitioner on the Facebook post to have pioneered religious hatred amongst different communities. Moreover, subsequent effect of the Facebook posts as alleged to have resulted into an overwhelming negative impact on the society at large with violent outburst is absent. The allegations against the petitioner to have been directly involved in the commission of alleged offences are not substantially prevalent in the case record to indict him.”
On the basis of complaint filed by the complainant on May 6, 2021, a case under Section 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), Section 505 (Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes), Section 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) and Section 120B (Punishment of criminal conspiracy) of IPC was registered against the petitioner and other persons on the basis of the allegation of spreading communal hatred and violence amongst the people of society through comments on Facebook profiles for certain persons.
The petitioner approached High Court for quashing the proceedings. His counsel submitted that he has been falsely implicated due to rival political ideologies with an ulterior motive of wrecking vengeance on frivolous ground. It was further submitted that the allegations stated in the FIR does not disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an investigation by police officers under Section 156(1) of the CrPC except under an order of a Magistrate within the purview of Section 155(2) of the CrPC.
It was contended that the alleged social media post was uploaded by another person and the petitioner was merely tagged in the post due to which it was appearing on his Facebook profile. It was submitted that the petitioner was neither the creator of the post nor did he intent to spew any religious hatred with the intent of causing rites among different communities in West Bengal.
The Counsel appearing for the State submitted that the existence of materials on record to implicate the petitioner and his involvement will be proved through the process of trial and at the premature stage, the proceedings be not quashed.
The court observed that the complaint dated May 6, 2021 and the statements recorded under Section 161 CrPC on record do not describe the specific act of the present petitioner to constitute the elements to justify an offence to have been committed under the above provisions of IPC.
It further observed that the complaint presupposes the occurrence of a riot but did not state any incident of such occurrence as an offshoot of such Facebook post.
“It is of imprudence to subject any person to face trial in a criminal case based on mere assumptions and suspicious in absence of criminal intent or ulterior motive for accomplishing any wrongful act. Therefore to allow the petitioner to face trial will result into abuse of the process of law,” said the court, while quashing the proceedings under Sections 504, 505, 506 and 120B of IPC against the petitioner.
Case Title: Sri Protip Roy Basunia v. The State of West Bengal & Anr
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Cal) 147
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