Taslima moves Supreme Court against FIR over tweet // SC accords protection to Tasleema Nasreen from arrest
The Supreme Court's serious objections to abuse of Section 66A of Information Technology Act has not deterred UP police from lodging an FIR against author Taslima Nasrin for her criticism on Twitter of Aam Aadmi Party's Arvind Kejriwal for seeking support of a mufti who had issued a fatwa against her.
A similar abuse of Section 66A leading to arrest of two girls from Palghar in Maharashtra in November last year for their comments on social networking site Facebook had enraged the apex court during the hearing of a PIL, which had challenged the constitutionality of the provision. Shreya Singhal had alleged that the provision was violating right to freedom of expression. After the SC intervention, two police officers who had arrested the Palghar girls were suspended and proceeded against.
Taslima, who has been staying in India since 2004, said in her petition before the SC that Bareilly police registered an FIR against her on December 4 on the complaint of one Hasan Raza Khan alleging that her tweets had hurt the sentiments of Muslims. The police registered an FIR on the complaint without even inquiring whether an offence was made out or not, she said. In her tweet, Taslima had criticized Kejriwal's pre-Delhi election meeting in the first week of November with Muslim cleric Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan ostensibly to seek his support for the party in the assembly polls. Given her strong pro-women's stand, which riled clercs both in Bangladesh and India, Tauqeer Raza Khan had allegedly issued a fatwa against her in 2007 putting a bounty of Rs 5 lakh on her head.
In her tweet on the Kejriwal-Mufti meeting in the backdrop of the 2007 fatwa, Taslima had said it appeared to be an attempt by political personalities to confer legitimacy to such fatwas. Her petition seeking quashing of the FIR was mentioned on Monday for urgent hearing by senior advocate KK Venugopal before a bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi. The bench posted it for hearing on Tuesday.
Taslima's petition, drafted by advocates Ankur Chawla and Liz Mathew, said: "As a peace loving and law abiding person of letters, the petitioner is quite distressed and shocked by the registration of a criminal case against her, and believes that the criminal justice system is being abused to harass, intimidate and coerce her into virtually giving up her right to express her views freely and without fear." "Petitioner was shocked to learn that Arvind Kejriwal, who is a leader of a political party, met with Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan and sought his support for the assembly elections to be held on December 4. The petitioner was rather disturbed to read media reports of this meeting, given that Kejriwal had been projecting himself as a legitimate leader and voice of civil society, and had himself been highly critical of political stratagems adopted by the established political parties in India to gain power."
"Petitioner also believed that her sense of outrage and disappointment would be shared by many other like-minded members of civil society. As a result, the petitioner expressed displeasure at the meeting between Kejriwal and Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan on Twitter."
Taslima said as a citizen of Bangladesh, she might not be able to invoke fundamental right to freedom of speech but requested the court to take cognizance of the potential threat posed by the abuse of Section 66A to free speech. She had moved to India in 2004 after a 10-year exile in foreign countries. She stayed in Kolkata till 2008 and has been living in New Delhi since.
Cleric files FIR against Taslima Nasreen's anti-fatwa tweet
The complaint lodged by Hasan Raza Khan takes serious objection to Tasleema's tweet in which she says "In India, criminals who issue fatwas (edict) against women don't get punished". Hasan Raza Khan in his complaint said a mufti (qualified Islamic scholar) issues fatwas in the light of the teachings of the sacred book and Hadith (references to Islam that were penned down by noted religious leaders of the Prophet's era). By describing the muftis as criminals Tasleema Nasreen had hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims, says Hasan Raza in his complaint that was submitted at the City Kotwali police station in Bareilly late Wednesday night...
Nasreen tweeted on Thursday evening that she was facing a police case for speaking the truth. " ... Hasan Raza Khan Noori Miyan did not at least deny that a fatwa was issued or a price was set on my head. He said it was issued 'in the light of the Hadith and the Quran". She tweeted further, "Nobody is allowed to set price on anyone's head in India. The fatwas are illegal here. It is against the Indian constitution. But it seems Noori Miyan does not care. The cleric Tauqeer Raza Khan is wrong if he claims that I am wrong, because I say he is anti-free speech. Noori Miyan is now saying I am a criminal. Am I a criminal because I have told the truth?" Her tweet had read: "He believes I hurt religious feelings of the entire Muslim community. Is it a crime to tell the the truth? Did I commit a crime or hurt Muslim community by telling the truth about Tauqeer Raza Khan that he was against free speech, so he issued fatwa? The truth only hurts liars and hypocrites. All Muslims in India are not afraid of truth, nor are they liars and hypocrites. Some are, of course. And they always use the name of whole community for their own political interests. Should it be continued? And fatwas continued to be issued, court cases continued to be filed and FIRs continued to registered against writers and artists?"
SC accords protection to Tasleema Nasreen from arrest
The Supreme Court on Tuesday accorded protection from arrest to exiled Bangladeshi writer Tasleema Nasreen, who has had an FIR registered against her in Uttar Pradesh under the Information Technology Act over a contentious tweet. In her tweet, Nasreen had criticised the meeting between AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and cleric Maulana Taureeque Raza Khan, who had approved of issuing a fatwa against her in 2007. Subsequently, an FIR was lodged against her in Bareilley in UP. A bench led by Chief Justice P Sathasivam restrained the police from taking any coercive action against her and sought a reply from UP government as to why the FIR against her be not quashed. The court also tagged her petition with a bunch of other similar petitions that have sought to get Section 66A of the IT Act as unconstitutional because of its fragrant misuse.
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