The Supreme Court Friday protected lawyer Prashant Bhushan from arrest in an FIR lodged in Gujarat by a retired Army personnel Jaydev Joshi for hurting Hindu religious sentiment by using "opium" with Ramayana and Mahabharata. Prashant Bhushan had tweeted that "as crores starve and walk hundreds of miles home due to forced lockdown, our heartless ministers celebrate consuming and feeding the opium of Ramayana and Mahabharata to the people."
A bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna said "Anybody can watch anything on TV. How can you say people cannot watch this and that? How can you object to people watching TV?"
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing Bhushan, said we are not on the people watching something on TV, instead we are on the FIR. Joshi, in his complaint, accused Bhushan of using word opium with Ramayana and Mahabharata in the tweet on March 28, which has hurt the sentiments of many Hindus. During the lockdown, Doordarshan (DD) began the telecast of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Bhushan has challenged FIR against him in Gujarat and sought its quashing. The bench directed the Gujarat police not to take any coercive action against Bhushan on the basis of the FIR until further orders are issued. The top court also sought reply from Gujarat Police in two weeks.
The FIR was registered at the Bhaktinagar police station of Rajkot city on Sunday evening. Later, the investigation was transferred to the special operations group (SOG).
The FIR was registered under section 34 (criminal act done by several persons), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or the religious beliefs), 505(1) (publishing or circulating any statement, rumour or report which can cause fear and alarm amongst people) and section 120 -B (criminal conspiracy of the Indian Penal Code.