The Allahabad High Court recently quashed an FIR filed against a person named Manurojan Yadav (Petitioner) for generating a Facebook Post wherein he shared his perception as to in which class would Maharana Pratap fall, i.e. as a Kshatriya or a Marwadi. The Bench of Justice Pankaj Naqvi and Justice Vivek Agarwal was hearing a writ petition filed by the Petitioner (Manurojan Yadav) with a prayer to quash the FIR under Section 66 of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 ( Act 21, 2000) & 505 IPC.
According to Live Law, case against the Petitioner The FIR alleged that the informant, a “Kshatriya” by caste, was aggrieved with the publication of a post on the Facebook account of the petitioner (Manurojan Yadav) which the informant found to be objectionable as the same was posted with a view to spread disharmony at the instance of Samajwadi Party leaders as also the Chairman of Zila Panchayat.
Court’s Observations The Court noted that Section 66 of the I.T. Act, 2000 relates to punishment for the computer-related offence which provides that if any person dishonestly or fraudulently does any act referred to in Section 43.
Further, the Court observed that the overt act attributed to the petitioner “does not relate to any of the clauses of Section 43 as the same relates to any of the clauses of Section 43 as the same relates to damage to the computer system.”
Thus, the Court remarked that “no offence under Section 66 of the I.T. Act is made out.” Regarding Section 505 of IPC, the Court observed, “Words spspoken or written must be with the intent to create/promote or likely to create / promote feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between two factions separated by religion / caste / language / region / communities.”
Importantly, the Court said, “Opinion about a historical fact could be a matter of perceptions. Two historians may not be on the same page on a historical event. A discordant view per se would not attract the offence under Section 505(2) IPC as the same would be saved by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution i.e. fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression.”
Regarding the post made by the Petitioner, the Court said that the author of the post (Petitioner) was only sharing his perception as to in which class would Maharana Pratap fall i.e. as a Kshatriya or a Marwadi.
The Court did not find that “the statement was intended to create or promote feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between two different groups.”
The Court said that “mens rea is an important element of this provision which is lacking. The statement is not of such category / character which could create feeling of enmity, hatred or ill-will in the mind of a reasonable man.”
Importantly, the Court said that “this provision is not meant to be invoked on the basis of sentiments of a weak / sensitive person.”
In the light of the above discussion, the Court took the view that “neither any offence under Section 66 of the I.T. Act nor under Section 505 IPC is made out.”
Case title – Manurojan Yadav v. State of U.P. and others [Criminal Misc. Writ Petition No. 5505/2020]