Supreme Court says that Criticism of government action cannot be a ground for a penal action

In the case of journalist Amish Devgan, the court observed that criticism about the government will not be a ground for penal action. The petitions were filed by the journalist to quash the FIRs filed against him for his controversial comments about Sufi Seer Moinuddin Chishti. After the show, the journalist tweeted an apology, but multiple FIRs were filed against him.

Amish Devgan has filed a plea to quash the FIR registered against him, instead the Court ordered to transfer all the FIRs filed against Amish’s statement to the police station in Ajmer. Initially, many FIRs were lodged against him in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana.

The FIRs were registered under Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on the ground of religion) and 295A (hurting religious beliefs) of Indian Penal Code.

Justice AM Khanwilkar Sanjiv Khanna observed that criticism about the government by comments, if not call for violence and public disorder, is not an offence. Even criticism with stronger terms of language should be protected from criminal prosecution. It will be protected under the freedom of speech and expression. For the need of promotion of democracy, political speech about government policies should be protected from prosecution. Disloyalty to the government by comments even in the strongest words should not raise a penal action.

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