Tuesday, July 1, 2008

‘If a journalist cannot write, who else will?’

J. Venkatesan
Why harass Nandy, court asks Gujarat

Ashis Nandy

New Delhi, July 2, 2008: The Supreme Court on Tuesday restrained the Narendra Modi government from arresting political analyst Ashis Nandy pursuant to registration of a case against him for writing an article, “Blame the middle class,” in a national newspaper.

A vacation Bench consisting of Justices Altamas Kabir and G.S. Singhvi also cancelled the summons issued by the inspector of the Satellite Police Station, Ahmedabad, seeking his appearance for interrogation on July 8. “Any further summons issued against Mr. Nandy in future relating to the case will stand quashed.”

The Bench was hearing his petition seeking a stay on his arrest and stay of criminal proceedings pursuant to the registration of the first information report.

Soft target?

Justice Kabir told counsel for Gujarat Hemantika Wahi: “There is no ground for harassing a journalist. Let him live in peace. You [Gujarat] are prosecuting this man for his article. These are worst things happening in this country. If a journalist cannot write then who else will? I have read the article and I find nothing is objectionable. They look for a soft target to catch but not even a single politician or small municipal councillors are caught. He [petitioner] is 71-years-old and is a soft target for you.”

Justice Singhvi said: “People coming from the land of Mahatma Gandhiji have become so intolerant that they can’t even tolerate an article.”

Mr. Nandy moved the apex court as the Delhi High Court refused to provide him interim protection against arrest. He sought quashing of the FIR lodged by the Ahmedabad police on a complaint filed by V.K. Saxena, president of an NGO, National Council for Civil Liberties. Mr. Nandy contended that the article was an expression of personal view through a critical analysis of the outcome of the 2007 Gujarat polls.

Mr. Saxena accused Mr. Nandy of promoting enmity within the society through his article.

Referring to the motives of the complainant, Justice Kabir said “What is the grievance of the complainant? How does it [article] bother him? Is he a staunch nationalist?”

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