The Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court has refused to quash a case registered against a 58-year-old man for allegedly posting an offensive message on a WhatsApp group, noting that ”prima facie the post was objectionable”.
The court also took note of the prosecution's argument that the accused had deleted the post from the group and his mobile phone after the case was registered, with an intention to destroy evidence.
A division bench of Justices V M Deshpande and Amit Borkar in its order passed on September 6, a copy of which was made available on Wednesday, dismissed the application filed by the accused seeking to quash the FIR registered against him in October 2019 by the Kanhan police in Nagpur.
He was booked under section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) and 153(A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion).
The prosecution's case is that the accused was a member of a WhatsApp group of the local community and colony members, where he allegedly posted an abusive and disrespectful message.
While opposing his plea, the prosecution told the court that the accused had deleted the alleged offensive message from the WhatsApp group and also from his mobile phone with an intent to destroy evidence.
The court, after perusing the FIR and the plea, said, ”On careful scrutiny of the FIR, we are of the prima facie opinion that the message posted by the applicant is objectionable.”
”Whether there was malicious intention on the part of the applicant is a matter to be considered by the investigating agency. We are of the opinion that at this stage, the right of the investigating agency to investigate the offence cannot be throttled,” the bench said.
The court at this stage cannot consider or conclude if the contents of the alleged offensive message was malicious or intended to outrage the religious sentiments of a particular community, and it would be in the best interest of justice to let the police determine the same, it further said.”