This Article is From May 23, 2014

Mumbai Executive Faces Arrest for Anti-Modi Remarks on Facebook

Devu Chodankar's anticipatory bail was rejected on Thursday by the district and sessions court in North Goa.

Panaji: A 31-year-old shipbuilding professional from Mumbai faces arrest allegedly for anti-Narendra Modi remarks that he posted on Facebook in March.

A First Information Report or FIR was filed against Devu Chodankar after a former head of the Confederation of Indian Industries in Goa, Atul Pai Kane, complained against him. He has been booked under sections 153(A), 295(A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 125 of the People's Representation Act and 66-A of the Information Technology Act. Some of these sections are non-bailable.

Mr Chodankar's anticipatory bail plea was rejected by a local court in Goa on Thursday. In a post on Goa+, a popular Facebook group with nearly half a lakh members, he had reportedly cautioned against Mr Modi coming to power, claiming that a "holocaust" would follow.

He later deleted the post and apologised for his choice of words but stood by his argument.

Two summons have already been issued to Mr Chodnakar by the Goa Police's cyber cell that has sought his custodial interrogation in court.

Superintendent of Police Kartik Kashyap told NDTV, "We have served summons on him twice but he did not turn up for investigation. The comments he made qualify for a cognizable offence and accordingly we have registered a case. Even the court has found merit in our argument and turned down his plea for anticipatory bail."

But Mr Chodankar's lawyer, Jatin Naik told NDTV, "My client was a supporter of the BJP. And this is nothing but to take political revenge. In this Lok Sabha elections he has not supported."

Civil society activists and the Opposition in the BJP-ruled state plan to picket outside the police headquarters on Saturday against what they believe is "draconian" action against free speech.

Dr. Samir Kelekar, an information technology professional who supports Mr Chodankar, said, "I think on Facebook people tend to go emotional at times, by posting things in the heat of the moment but going after them especially when there is no conspiracy or no preaching of violence is a waste of law and order machinery as well as just trying to silence the dissent."

But the episode has brought the focus back on section 66A of the Information Technology Act and reopened the debate on 'how far is too far?'