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Supreme Court Stays FIRs Registered In 5 States Against Actor Munmun Dutta Over 'Bhangi' Remark

Radhika Roy
18 Jun 2021 6:55 AM GMT
Supreme Court Stays FIRs Registered In 5 States Against Actor Munmun Dutta Over Bhangi Remark
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The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the investigation in the FIRs registered in 5 states against actor Munmun Dutta in several parts of the country over a 'Bhangi' remark, a casteist slur, made by her in a video posted in social media.A vacation bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian also issued notice on her prayer to club the FIRs lodged in 5 states with the FIR...

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The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the investigation in the FIRs registered in 5 states against actor Munmun Dutta in several parts of the country over a 'Bhangi' remark, a casteist slur, made by her in a video posted in social media.

A vacation bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian also issued notice on her prayer to club the FIRs lodged in 5 states with the FIR registered in Haryana.

The Court has stayed the investigation in the FIRs registered in the States of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, New Delhi,Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

However, while refraining from issuing directions to curb future filing of FIRs, the Court remarked that the petitioner could approach the Court in case of the same.

The matter will be returnable in 6 weeks.

In today's hearing, Senior Advocate Puneet Bali, appearing for the petitioner, argued before the Court that due to a language barrier, the actor, a Bengali, was unaware of the true meaning of the term. He said that the actor's understanding was that 'bhangi' was a term used to describe someone who consumes 'bhaang' or weed.

This argument was rejected by the Court.

"That is not true. You may not be informed. Everyone knows the meaning. Same word is used in Bangla. She was in Calcutta when she said this", stated the Court.

Bali submitted, "She is agreeing that she said it, but the context was different. I can show the video. There is only one relief that this Court can grant me and the High Court cannot. Similar reliefs have been granted in matters of Amish Patel etc. 5 FIRs on the same thing in 5 different States".

Bali also stated that Dutta was a woman who had recently lost her father, however, the Court asked, "Do women have better rights or equal rights?"

Bali then went on to argue that the complaints had been filed for publicity and there was a chance that someone could make a genuine mistake; there was no mens rea.

"Within two hours someone told me the meaning, and I immediately removed the video. But there was no FIR against these people. I had no intention, there was no mens rea",
submitted Bali.

The Bench then proceeded to issue notice in the plea and directed for a stay on the 5 FIRs against her.

Five FIRs have been filed under Section 3(1)(u) Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against Munmun Dutta for the usage of the casteist slur in an Instagram video. The actor has publicly apologized for the same and stated that there was a language barrier due to which she was not aware of its meaning.

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