Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Apex court assures Ashish Nandy of protection against Gujarat Police

Express News Service

Posted online: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 at 11:34:43Updated: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 at 11:34:43Print Email To Editor Post Comments

New Delhi, July 01 The Supreme Court on Tuesday assured journalist and political psychologist Dr Ashish Nandy of protection against arrest or detention by the Gujarat Police. In a dramatic unfolding of events in the apex court, a Bench led by Justice Altamas Kabir restrained the Narendra Modi government from taking any action against the 71-year-old political scholar for penning an article “critically analysing the outcome of the 2007 polls”.

Nandy had moved the Delhi High Court for quashing an FIR registered at the Satellite police station in Ahmedbad (rural) district under Sections 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc) and 153 B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) of the IPC – an action, as per Nandy, permitted by an “unhappy and annoyed” Modi Government.

Holding that “nothing in the article is objectionable,” the Bench directed the Gujarat government to “stop short of arresting Nandy with regard to proceedings arising from the FIR registered in relation to the article. “There are worse things happening in this country,” the court noted in its criticism of the Modi government's “harassment” of the journalist.

The Supreme Court’s stinging remarks were prompted by a Gujarat Police summons issued hours after the Bench heard the matter today, and asked Nandy to be present at the Satellite police station on August 8.

Gaurang Kanth, counsel for Nandy rushed to the courtroom to apprise the Bench of the new development. Staying the summons on an interim basis, an anguished Bench observed that Nandy was harassed because he was a “soft target.” “The court wondered aloud as to why this type of FIR is not lodged against any politician in India,” Kanth told The Indian Express. Why is that people in the state of Mahatma Gandhi do not have enough tolerance to permit Nandy and other journalists from expressing their independent opinion, the court asked.

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