Sharing Derogatory Post Against Women Journalists: SC Asks BJP leader S. Ve. Shekher To Appear And Seek Bail From Trial Court [Read Order]

Sharing Derogatory Post Against Women Journalists: SC Asks BJP leader S. Ve. Shekher To Appear And Seek Bail From Trial Court [Read Order]

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to extend the interim stay on the arrest of BJP leader S.Ve. Shekher, requiring him to appear and seek regular bail from trial Court.

The vacation bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Mohan M. Shantanagoudar was hearing his SLP arising out of the May 10 judgment of the Madras High Court declining his anticipatory bail application, and holding that sharing or forwarding of a message in social media equals the acceptance and endorsement of the view expressed therein.

A FIR has been registered against him under sections 504, 505(1)(c) and 509 of the IPC and section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Women Harassment Act for allegedly sharing a derogatory Facebook post on women journalists.

On Friday, Advocate Yogesh Khanna, the counsel appearing on behalf of the state of Tamil Nadu informed the bench that the charge-sheet has been filed and consequently, the plea for anticipatory bail has become infructuous.

Directing that the petitioner appear before the trial court and seek regular bail, the bench noted, “after the chargesheet has been filed, that would be the matter of course...”

Praying that the petitioner be exempted from appearance before the trial court, the advocate representing him urged, “I forwarded (the offensive post), deleted it and and when the Magistrate issues notice, I will have to appear...there will be intervenors...if I could be exempted...”

“There are no intervenors in a criminal matter...nobody can be given any special treatment”, asserted the bench.

On May 22, the bench of Justices A. M. Khanwilkar and Navin Sinha had directed that no coercive action may be initiated against him in connection with the FIR.

In the impugned judgment, the High Court had observed, “No one has any right to abuse women, and if done, it is a violation of rights. When calling a person with community name itself is a crime, using such un-parliamentary words is more heinous...Words are more powerful than acts...When a celebrity-like person forwards such messages, the common public will believe that these types of things are going on...”

The bench had also noted, “there cannot be any harsher words than this which portraits that all working women coming up in life are sacrificing their chastity. The future of such working women is at stake. Instead of wiping out the wrong impression about working women among the public these words create fear and anxiety among people who want to pursue a career. After seeing these forwarded words from a person who is popular and has lot of connections with media people for long, the public will look at every working woman with a suspicious eye...”

The present petitioner had contended before the High Court that he had received the concerned message from a friend and, under the bona fide impression, the message being from the one who usually sent “good and patriotic messages”, he had forwarded the same without reading the content and knowing its condemnable nature. Subsequently, he had deleted the post as it was not at all acceptable to him.

Read the Order Here