SC agrees to hear Ashis Nandy's plea
New Delhi, Jan 31 : The Supreme Court will Friday hear a petition by sociologist Ashis Nandy seeking the quashing of a police case filed against him by the Rajasthan government for alleged remarks linking Dalits to corruption.
Nandy was booked Saturday for his comment made at the recently-concluded Jaipur Literature Festival session.
The apex court bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice Vikramajit Sen decided to take up Friday the plea by the academician after it was mentioned by counsel Aman Lekhi before the bench.
The petition sought the quashing of any other first information report (FIR) registered across India "arising out of or in relation to the comments and statements of the petitioner...."
An FIR was registered against Nandy at a police station in Jaipur under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act (SC/ST Act) and charges of criminal intimidation under of the Indian Penal Code.
Seeking to restrain Rajasthan Police from taking any coercive action against him, Nandy said that in the remarks attributed to him there was "no malafide intent or purpose on his part to make a comment in order to insult or intimidate with intent to humiliate a member of SC or ST in any place within public view".
Nandy urged the apex court to issue direction to the authorities for taking "appropriate steps to protect" his physical well-being.
The petitioner sought a direction to the Rajasthan government and state police not to take "any coercive action of any nature in any proceedings without prior permission of the (apex court)...."
Nandy said the issuance of guidelines by the apex court was necessary so that provision of Section 3(1)(x) of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act could not be "misused to hamper freedom of speech and expression and also to set out the circumstances in which alone the police officials may investigate and initiate penal action under the said act".
There was "neither any intentional insult nor intimidation with intent to humiliate any member of the SC and ST so as to attract the provisions of law," Nandy said.
The offence under Section 3(1)(x) of the SC/ST Act is non-bailable and even the protection of anticipatory bail is denied under Section 18 of the law, the petition said.
The registration of the said FIR was "an abuse of law and there is imminent danger of the same being compounded as the he is being denied his fundamental rights under Article 14, 19 and 21 of the constitution, because of the clamour of his immediate arrest from important political personalities including Mayawati (Bahujan Samaj Party chief) and P.L. Punia (chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes)".