The Bombay High Court in the matter of Mr. Javed Ahmed Hajam v/s State of Maharashtra refused to quash an FIR against a young Kashmiri professor in Kolhapur who was booked under section 153 A of IPC for keeping a status on his WhatsApp terming the abrogation of article 370 a black day for Jammu and Kashmir.
The division bench observed that such a statement was made on WhatsApp without giving any reason and without any critical analysis of the steps taken by the central government therefore the professor had prima facie committed an offense punishable under section 153 A of IPC that is of promoting enmity between two groups.
The petitioner approached High Court to quash the FIR against him and contended that he did not circulate any derogatory message to promote enmity between any group on grounds of religion, place of birth, language, residence, caste or community and the essential requirement of mens rea for causing disharmony Is absent in the present case.
The petitioner relied on the judgment in the case of Balwant Singh and Anr v/s state of Punjab where the persons who raised slogans of Khalistan Zindabad on the day when the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated were acquitted.
The petitioner contended that the status that he kept on WhatsApp was his way of protesting and to show disapproval or unhappiness with the decision of the government and therefore offense under 153 IPC is not made out.
The court observed that whether the WhatsApp message brings consequences as laid down in section 153 A is a matter of trial and observed that making such remarks without giving any reason or justification in our view tends to play with the emotions of different groups of people in India as presently there are strong contrasting views about the status of Jammu Kashmir in India and therefore one has to cautiously tread in such a field otherwise the emotion may reach up to a level of bringing the consequences laid down in section 153 A of IPC.
Thus the court observed that if any criticism is made it has to be based upon an evaluation of all pros and cons of the situation and backed with a justification and in view of the same refused to quash the FIR against the petitioner.