The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave relief to political analyst Ashis Nandy by staying the verdict of the Delhi high court which had refused to quash criminal proceedings initiated against him by the Gujarat police for his article in a national daily allegedly portraying the state in a bad light.
A bench comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph also issued a notice to the Gujarat government on the petition filed by Nandy challenging the high court's order, which had directed him to submit his grievances before a court in Ahmedabad.
Advocates Dhyan Krishnan and Gaurang Kanth, appearing for the academician, submitted that the high court dismissed his petition on the assumption that he had challenged the power of the metropolitan magistrate court which ordered the registration of a FIR on the basis of a private complaint.
"We had only submitted that a prima facie case is not made out," the counsel submitted.
The high court on September 1 had dismissed the petition filed by Nandy seeking quashing of the FIR registered against him under Section 153A (promoting communal disharmony) and 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) of the Indian Penal Code.
The state government initiated the proceedings against him on a complaint filed by V K Saxena, president of the Ahmedabad-based NGO National Council for Civil Liberties, alleging that the article written after the last assembly elections had projected the state in a bad light and promoted communal disharmony between Hindus and Muslims.
Nandy contended that the FIR was registered out of malafide intention and was aimed at penalising him for expressing his bonafide views.
His counsel had in the high court argued that the state government has picked up a line from the article published in the daily and accused him of promoting communal disharmony.
The Gujarat government had justified the criminal prosecution and pleaded with the high court not to interfere in the ongoing investigation.
The state government had maintained that the FIR in this case prima facie discloses the offence under the Criminal Procedure Code and the court should not interfere and allow the investigation to be completed.
"It has been held time and again by courts that the power of quashing criminal proceeding should be exercised sparingly with circumspection and that too in the rarest of rare cases," it had said, adding that the government had allowed the prosecution of Nandy after perusing the article.