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"Officers Guilty Of Being Intolerant Towards Reformist Voices": Allahabad HC Quashes FIR Against FB Post Regarding Quarantine Centre Mismanagement

Sparsh Upadhyay
14 Nov 2020 4:33 AM GMT
Officers Guilty Of Being Intolerant Towards Reformist Voices: Allahabad HC Quashes FIR Against FB Post Regarding Quarantine Centre Mismanagement
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The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday (04th November) came down heavily on State Officers for lodging an FIR against one Umesh Pratap Singh (Petitioner) for a Facebook post sent by him, highlighting mismanagement and lack of facilities at a quarantine centre located in Prayagraj District.The Bench of Justice Pankaj Naqvi and Justice Vivek Agarwal delivered a strongly worded order wherein,...

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The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday (04th November) came down heavily on State Officers for lodging an FIR against one Umesh Pratap Singh (Petitioner) for a Facebook post sent by him, highlighting mismanagement and lack of facilities at a quarantine centre located in Prayagraj District.

The Bench of Justice Pankaj Naqvi and Justice Vivek Agarwal delivered a strongly worded order wherein, while quashing the FIR, the Court noted that "such FIR is clearly mala fide, motivated and deserves to be quashed and is accordingly quashed."

Not just that, the Court also observed,

"It is apparent that FIR has been lodged with a view to scuttle the voice of dissent against the mismanagement and mishandling of the Authorities of the State in managing their quarantine centre."

The background

The Petitioner (Umesh Pratap Singh) filed a petition seeking the quashing of an FIR filed against the Petitioner under the provisions of Section 505(2) and 501 IPC so also under Section 3(2) of Mahamari (Sansodhan) Vidheyak, 2020.

The Petitioner further prayed before the Court to direct the respondents-authorities to not arrest and harass him.

The Petitioner contended before the Court that the impugned FIR was lodged by one Dr Amrit Lal Yadav, Superintendent [Community Health Centre, Kotwa Bani, District- Prayagraj (respondent no.5)] being aggrieved of a Facebook post sent by the petitioner highlighting mismanagement and lack of facilities at the quarantine centre, Kotwa Bani.

It was submitted by him that highlighting the mismanagement and shortcomings at the quarantine centre does not constitute an offence under Sections 505 (2) and 501 of IPC.

Significantly, it was submitted that the Chief Justice had himself taken cognizance of lack of adequate hygienic conditions and inadequate treatment at the quarantine centres in Public Interest Litigation (PIL) No.574 of 2020 vide order dated 07.05.2020.

Therefore, it was argued, that if the petitioner has highlighted the problems faced by his friends and relatives, then it would not come within the purview of printing and engraving matter known to be defamatory or does not amount to be a statement creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes.

Court's Observations

The Court observed,

"We would have appreciated, if authorities would have taken note of the Facebook post and would have brought either some material to contradict the contents of the post or would have brought some material to show that after Facebook post, they managed the quarantine centre in a better way rectifying the deficiencies pointed out in the post."

The Court, further observed,

"Respondents have tried to justify their actions, which shows that State is losing control over its officers and, in fact, officers are guilty of displaying intolerance towards the reformist voices treating them to be interference in the administration of justice."

Notably, the Court had asked Dr. Yadav to be present before the Court in person. However, the Court noted that neither Dr. Yadav nor learned AGA could satisfy the Court "as to how the offences under Sections 501, 505(2) IPC or 3(2) of Mahamari (Sansodhan) Vidheyak, 2020 are made out."

Lastly, the Court directed that authorities of the respondent nos.4 and 5 to pay a compensatory cost of Rs.5,000/- to the petitioner from their own salary not to be reimbursed by the State.

Case Title - Umesh Pratap Singh v. State Of U.P. And 4 Others [Criminal Misc. Writ Petition No. - 6691 of 2020]

Click Here To Download Order

[Read Order]



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