The Supreme Court on Tuesday 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 will continue.
A Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna acceded to the request of Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing on behalf of Devgan, and informed the Counsels that the interim orders would continue till the next date of hearing.
The Court was hearing another matter, and due to paucity of time, was unable to take up the instant plea.
In the previous hearing, the Court had allowed the Petitioners to serve copies on the de facto complainants who had not been served and directed the Union of India and other Respondents to file a Reply within two weeks. The Petitioner was allowed to file rejoinder thereafter.
On June 26, the Apex Court had stayed, till the next date of hearing, the 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 de facto complainants.
Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Devgan, had submitted that his client had made an "inadvertent error" during his show for which he had later issued a 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", stated Luthra.
He further averred that multiple FIRs had been registered in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Telangana against Devgan, and that it would cause grave prejudice to him if he was 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.
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". Consequently, several police complaints and FIRs were registered against the anchor across the country.
Devgan's petition filed through Advocate Vivek Jain seeks for 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". His tweet of apology read:
"In 1 of my debates,I inadvertently referred to 'Khilji' as Chishti. I sincerely apologise for this grave error and the anguish it may hv caused to followers of the Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti, whom I revere. I have in the past sought blessings at his dargah. I regret this error".