The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the petition filed by Nupur Sharma seeking the transfer of FIRs registered against her across the country to Delhi where the first FIR was registered.

The two-judge Bench of Justice Suryakant and Justice JB Pardiwala had some controversial remarks while hearing the plea, including that the outburst by the ex-BJP Spokesperson was responsible for the Udaipur incident where a tailor was beheaded.

The Bench had also raised questions on the investigation and asked why Nupur Sharma had not been arrested yet for the comments she made on national television. The Petition was ultimately dismissed as withdrawn "with liberty to avail alternate remedy available under the law".

  • Sharma's Petition-

Senior Advocate Maninder Singh had appeared for Nupur before the Apex Court and her Petition was filed through Advocate Rachitta Rai.

A) Grounds

The grounds on which the Petition was filed were –

i) It was urged in the Petition that various FIRs have been filed induced with malice. In particular, these complaints have been filed to muzzle the fundamental right to free speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and infringe upon her right to life and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

ii) Further, it was pleaded that the complaints and the FIRs contain baseless and unsubstantiated allegations which are not borne out from the broadcasts aired on the news channel.

iii) It was also stated that the allegations in the complaints and the FIRs are merely conjectures and surmises based on a complete and vindictive misreading of only a miniscule part of the broadcast.

iv) Also, the Petitioner stated that the FIRs fail to take into account the genuine withdrawal of the statement made by the Petitioner at the public platform and such withdrawal establishes the fact that the Petitioner did not and could not have had any ill will or malicious intention to cause insult or hurt religious sentiments, which is a necessary requirement for the offence alleged against the Petitioner.

v) It was also pleaded that the Complaints and FIRs have been filed in quick succession against the Petitioner in various parts of the country, clearly showing an ill-motive masquerading as genuine concern.

vi) Additionally, it was urged that none of the ingredients of the offences as mentioned in the complaint and the FIR are not made out and the it is a fit case for the Apex Court to quash such FIRs in the interest of justice.

vii) The Petitioner placed reliance on Satinder Singh Bhasin v. Government (NCT of Delhi) & Ors. to argue that in cases where there a group of cases in different states, the Apex Court can exercise jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution and grant necessary relief.

viii) The Petitioner also stated that the sweeping power of criminal justice administration does not merit exposing a citizen each time to a fresh investigation by the police in respect of the same incident and if the facts and circumstances giving rise to the FIRs are same, the subsequent FIRs are liable to be quashed [T.T. Antony v. State of Kerala (2001) 6 SCC 181; and Babubhai v. State of Gujarat (2010) 12 SCC 254].

ix) It was further also stated that for the registration of the FIRs on the self-same incident and broadcast facts amounts to gross violation of fundamental rights and also violation of freedom of speech.

x) The Petitioner urged that all the FIRs or complaints which have been lodged in diverse jurisdictions arise out of one and the same incident – the broadcast of 27th May 22 on Times Now. It was stated that the foundation of allegation that offences have been committed under the provisions of IPC under Sections 295A, 153A and 505(2) relates to the same incident and hence multiplicity of FIRs in different jurisdictions would only lead to duplicity of proceedings.

xi) Reference was also made to Section 295A IPC to state that insults to religion offered unwittingly or carelessly or without any deliberate or malicious intention to outrage the religious feelings of that class do no come within the section.

xii) Further, it was also stated that the gist of Section 153A IPC is the intention to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of people. Thus, the intention to cause disorder or incite the people to violence is the sine qua non of the offence under Section 153A IPC, thus, none of the ingredients of the Section is made out in the case.

xiii) In reference to Section 505(2) IPC, the Petitioner urged that merely inciting the feeling of one community or group without any reference to any other community or group would not attract the provision, thus no such circumstances were alleged in the FIRs and therefore the FIRs cannot be sustained.

xiv) It was further stated that it is apparent that the words were spoken in a live heated debate and there was no intention to cause mens rea to commit the alleged offence or any calculated motive behind the same. The participation of the Petitioner and the observations made were with the intent to ensure that the atmosphere is not vitiated due to utterances of co-panelists. Therefore, quite contrary to having malicious or deliberate intent to cause hurt or hatred or enmity or ill-will, the intentions of the Petitioner were a bonafide attempt to keep the debate in the correct direction and to ensure that no groups/classes are hurt by either of the sides.

xv) Furthermore, the Petitioner pleaded that the said FIRs and Complaint filed is gross abuse of process of law and in gross violation of the Petitioner's fundamental rights including Article 19(1)(a) and right to life and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. Also, the said FIRs have a stifling and chilling effect on the exercise of freedom of speech and expression and will effectively destroy the freedom of citizens.

xvi) It was stated that in the absence of any offence being made out as per the admitted case of the complainants, the facts and circumstances of the matter justifies quashing of the said FIRs.

xvii) Further, it was pleaded that the subject FIRs and Complaint are false, baseless and liable to be quashed as it is bereft of any merit or any averment which constitutes any criminal offence. Thus, in this case, no offence is made out.

xviii) The Petitioner also pleaded that no part of cause of action arose the places where the FIRs/ complaints are lodged. The subject words inadvertently spoken by the Petitioner were from the studio in Noida and the Petitioner also resides there.

xix) As multiple FIRs and complaints have been filed/registered against the Petitioner before various police stations across the country. The Petitioner would not be in a position to individually approach each Court, apart from the fact that there may be conflicting orders of various Courts.

  • Prayers

Issue an appropriate Writ quashing the following Complaints/FIRs filed against the Petitioner and transfer/consolidate them -

i) FIR at Pydhonie PS, Thane, Mumbai

ii) FIR at Cyber Cell PS, Hyderabad, Telangana,

iii) FIR at Mumbra PS, Thane, Maharashtra,

iv) FIR at Bhiwandi PS, Thane, Maharashtra,

v) FIR at Kondhwa PS, Pune, Maharashtra,

vi) FIR at West Bengal

vii) FIR in New Delhi by Delhi Police,

viii) FIR at PS Nanalpeth, Parbhani,

ix) FIR at Amherst, PS, Kolkata, West Bengal

x) Any other FIR registered with regards to the telecast on 26.5.2022 on Times Now.

The Petitioner had also prayed for the staying of the investigation in the aforementioned FIRs.

Furthermore, Sharma had urged before the Apex Court that she must not be arrested or not be subjected to any other coercive steps by the Respondent in the aforementioned FIRs.

Yesterday, a social activist Ajay Gautam filed a letter petition before the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, seeking withdrawal of the oral remarks made by the Bench claiming that Nupur Sharma was denied a fair trial after the oral observations of the Judges.

In addition to the request to treat the letter as PIL, Ajay Gautam has also asked for suo motu transfer of all cases against Sharma to Delhi and fast-tracking of the trial.

The Bench of the Apex Court had also remarked that Nupur Sharma should have apologised to the nation and that she is single-handedly responsible for what happened in the country, referring to the riots that happened in different parts of the country against her remarks.

The Bar has also strongly reacted to the remarks made by the Bench against Nupur Sharma.

Click here to read/download the Petition