The Gujarat government has requested the Supreme Court to allow it to take to a "conclusive end" the probe into a criminal complaint lodged against political analyst Ashish Nandy for his new newspaper article allegedly portraying the state in bad light.
An FIR was registered against Nandy under section 153A (promoting communal disharmony) and 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) of IPC in January 2008 on a complaint of V K Saxena, president of Ahmedabad-based NGO National Council for Civil Liberties, for his remarks on the people of Gujarat on the outcome of the 2007 assembly poll.
Nandy had contended that the FIR was registered out of mala fide intention and was aimed at penalising him for expressing his bona fide views.
The Gujarat government, which filed an affidavit in compliance to the apex court notice, said, "The probe is at a pre-mature stage and this court may allow the investigating officer to carry out his investigation to a conclusive end. It is pertinent to note that nowadays people as well as organisations under the guise of freedom of speech and expression take undue advantages of liberal approaches of courts to try out cases falling under chapter VIII of the IPC and commit offences against public tranquillity. Therefore, in the larger interest of justice such petitioners (Nandy and others) may not be encouraged by allowing quashing of petition at threshold."
The state government said the petition of Nandy seeking quashing of criminal proceedings against him be dismissed as "the FIR in the instant case prima facie discloses the offence under sections 153A and 153B."
On January 4, the apex court stayed the verdict of the Delhi High Court which had refused to quash criminal proceedings initiated against Nandy by Gujarat Police.
The high court had directed Nandy to submit his grievances before a court in Ahmedabad.
The Gujarat government, in its affidavit, asked the apex court not to interfere with the high court order of September 1, 2010 contending that "there is no infirmity" in its order.
Further, it said the FIR was lodged by the Satellite Police Station, Ahmedabad after "proper application of mind" and on the basis of the valid sanction of the government.
"In the instant case the FIR as well as the statements of witnesses recorded during the investigation prima facie discloses offence which requires "no interference" by this court under Article 136," it said.
During the last hearing, Nandy, through his lawyers Dhyan Krishnan and Gaurang Kanth, had submitted that the high court dismissed his petition on an assumption that he had challenged the power of the metropolitan magistrate who ordered registration of an FIR on the basis of a private complaint.
"We had only submitted that a prima facie case is not made out," the counsel had submitted.
The NGO alleged that the article written after the last assembly elections had projected the state in bad light and promoted communal disharmony between Hindus and Muslims.
Nandy's counsel had argued in the high court that the state government has picked up a line from the article published in the daily and accused him of promoting communal disharmony.
The state government had maintained that the FIR in this case prima facie discloses the offence under the CrPC and the court should not interfere and allow the investigation to be completed.